April 11th, 2011

piranha - pearly whites.

Writer's Block: Sorry seems to be the hardest word

If there was one person, living or dead, to whom you could apologize, who would you choose, and what would you say?

If I could, I would apologize to my grandparents for not spending enough time with them.  With the exception of my father's mother, who had Alzheimer's and, frankly, had no idea who I was most of the time, I regret that I saw my grandparents so infrequently before their deaths. 

My Goong Goong (mom's dad) was probably my favorite of my four grandparents.  He was very artistic, with strong drafting skills as well as a talent for lapidary.  He always used to say that if I'd lived in San Francisco and been able to be at his house more often, he would have taught me how to carve jade.  I'm truly sorry we never did that.  He's the man I remember coloring with as a child.  He also loved reading - granted, the books he enjoyed were Tom Clancy novels, which I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole - and I remember him reading in the afternoon while we played on the floor with our toys.  But in the month before his death, I never saw him, so I never had much of a chance to say good-bye.    That bums me out.

My Po Po (mom's mother) was also quite artistic; she's the one who sewed up dresses for my dolls and Halloween costumes for my brother and me.  I still treasure the things she made today.  She was also great at managing money.  But like Goong Goong, I didn't really have a chance to say good-bye before she died.  I was in Boston when she had a nasty fall; she passed away the day before my mother and I had planned to see her.  She was lonely, and in her final years we didn't do a very good job of communicating with her.  I had just started writing her a letter a week before she died, because I couldn't be counted on to call or visit regularly.  That actually worked out really well; I looked forward to receiving her letters each week and I think she enjoyed reading mine.

My dad's father was my final grandparent, and sadly he was the one I visited the least.  He lived down in Southern California, so it was hard to see him more than two or three times a year, max.   He was a great historian, always researching new topics (usually regarding military history or geneology) or writing books.  He was the most intellectual of my grandparents, and probably the most playful.  Goong Goong and Po Po were great, but they were also older, so they couldn't run around after me.  Grandpa was a military man, healthy and strong, so he would chase my brother and I all over the playground.  He was also the grandparent who would play "tea party" with me - just imagine this strong ex-army colonel delicately holding a teacup in his big fist!  It was awesome.  He loved my grandmother absolutely, and even after she passed away he never dated or remarried. 

In all three relationships with my grandparents, I let work get in the way of seeing them.  Since I worked retail, I couldn't get the time off to visit my grandfather in Southern California, so I never saw him at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  For that choice - for taking jobs that meant I wouldn't see my family - I want to apologize most of all.  But I think that's the decision they understood best, because they always encouraged me to work hard.  But still, that's what I regret most of all.

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I didn't take the time to learn from you guys all that you knew, about your past and your talents and your lives.  I'm sorry I didn't always show you the love and reverence you deserved.  I really miss you guys, and all you did for me.  I'm sorry I didn't appreciate your love until you were gone.