Today marks the tenth anniversary of my Grandpa Grant’s passing. I was working that summer at a trucking business where my mom worked part-time. My dad worked close by, and, during the final few days, I’d casually drive by his work before I went home. If his car was still there, I knew my grandpa was still in hospice and nothing had happened. My dad’s car (now my car) wasn’t there on Wednesday, June 23, 2004 when I drove by after work.
A death like that, from lung cancer, isn’t easy. It is a difficult way to go and time slows and you learn how long the human body continues to live after the will to live has gone. The beeps and whooshing sounds of machines become your background music. You say goodbye. You say goodbye again. You keep saying goodbye until it comes into existence.
My grandpa was an amazing man, the very definition of strong and silent. After my grandma died in 2002, we had about two years of just him. We heard his voice for the first time, it seemed, since my grandma owned all the words and stories when they were together. I loved him very much and miss him a lot.
A few months later, my college roommate, Nicole, gave me a torn off page from a word-a-day calendar. It was dated June 23, 2004, the very day my grandpa died. It remains one of the greatest coincidences of my life. How random. A friend’s calendar. An impossibly sunny day in June. A word.