I come from a line of very large families. My paternal grandparents were each one of five. My maternal grandparents were both one of eight. My dad was the oldest of seven, and my mom is the youngest of 8. I am the oldest of five. I'm rather afraid about how many kids I'm gonna have :P though I really am fine with the idea of having a big family. I know the drama that they can hold, but I also know that having a large family can be a lot of fun.
I'm going to start with my dad's side, partially because I'm with some of them right now. On this side of my family I am one of eighteen cousins. There are also my cousin's three kids that come around a lot and are around the same ages of my younger two brothers. I am one of the oldest cousins on this side of the family. The kids were kinda born in stages. I'm not going to bore you listing that, so I'll just say that each of us has a small group of cousins close to us in age, which made very close friendships or very hateful enemies (though there was only one case of enemies, but I'm not going to dwell on that because I was one side/half of that enemyship and this is looking at the good things about families :D ).
This family is very into sports . Football and baseball are the two major sports, but soccer, volleyball, softball, wrestling, basketball, track, colorguard and even golf! Whenever all of us cousins get together, however, instead of any other game, we instead wait until the dead of night, dress in all dark clothes, get two white rags, and play capture the flag. It is soooo much fun. I usually can't play as long as the others (we suspect I have mild exercise-induced asthma, but we haven't gotten it checked into or anything) but I still enjoy the game. When us cousins aren't doing that sort of thing, though, we plop in front of a tv or a computer and play our video games. As I speak there is a tournament of Digimon Rumble Arena 2 playing (which I'm thinking about getting involved in :P ). Another thing we enjoyed doing was building forts. Quite a few of them were built inside with blankets, pillows, and the chairs and couches of somebody's living room, but there was one we built in the woods on my grandparents' land in the mountains (I'm gonna have to do a rant about that place someday--note to self: ramble about NC sometime). It was awesome. We had beds made out of moss, some wall like things, and something that slightly resembled an indian teepee (it was a "camp" with multiple buildings)
Then there are the things we do with the adults, such as watch good movies (there is a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon every New Year's now) and play cards. We usually don't get the beer that the full adults do, but oh well we still have fun. This side of the family knows how to have fun, and we usually have a pretty good time together. I feel like we aren't as close now as we were a few years ago, and that saddens me. Most of us cousins are in high school or are beyond it now and that's the age where people change, I know, but it's still hard to watch those happy childhood memories slip away. A few of my cousins seem to think the rest of us aren't good enough to see anymore, though I admit they've been through some hard times in the last few years and so might act weird because of it. Just wish they spent time with the people who have been there for them all of their lives.
The last time all of us were together was a few months ago, and it was for something very sad. Some of you might have read my poem "One of the Greatest Men Who's Ever Lived" (if not here's a link to it on dm: http://www.dragonmount.com/forums/topic/61401-grandpa-poem/page__p__1879552__fromsearch__1#entry1879552 there was also one in the Aiel or the Wolfkin but I can't find it.) I'm going to take one moment to rant about this man. My biological grandfather died when my parents were just dating. A few weeks after they got married my grandma remarried. The man I called my grandpa was a Canadian carpenter who liked beer, books and bald eagles. He also enjoyed a good game of cards or a nice chat. He had a very very strong faith. He was one of the best huggers I've ever hugged. Once I was old enough for him to be sure that he wouldn't break me (which was about high school age :P ) every hug started being a contest of who could squeeze each other more. He was seventy-something years old when he built a house in the Smokey Mountains basically by himself. (oh God I loved that house). He never had any children of his own, but he was great with us. Though apparently he wasn't at first....
When I was around a year old, my parents were going on some trip and I was staying with my grandparents for a week. My grandma was still working at the time, so my grandpa took care of me for the most part. He learned how to change diapers, get a toddler to stop crying, get one to bed, ect all from me. Apparently my grandma often came home too a wild haired little girl with mismatched clothes on being chased around ;D
I would always snuggle up on his lap as he was playing cards, or sit in my swing watching him as he worked in his workshop. Some times we would just sit and he'd wrap his arms around me. That was one of the safest places on earth. A lot of kids are Mommy's Boy or Daddy's Girl (or switch). I was Grandpa's Girl.
So much of who I am came from him. Bald eagles are my favorite animals because of him. He collected dreamcatchers and wind chimes; so do I. He loved to read; I'm a WoT fan, I obviously do! He had so much faith, and I still look to him as a role model in that respect. He was really stubborn when he wanted to be, but he was a real kind soul who cared so much and had a huge heart that could make even the darkest times bright. I strive to be half the person he was.
He was always so full of life... In the last few years he started to have health problems. A lot of health problems. He ended up getting one of his legs amputated because of a blood clot. He shrugged it off, got a fake leg, got up on his feet again and didn't let it slow him down. His spirit was still just as strong. When he lost his other leg for the same reason he said he'd just get another fake leg and figure out how to walk with two. He was determined enough that he might have made it happen... If it weren't for the stroke.
It was a Wednesday night. We knew Grandpa hadn't been feeling well. The doctors had wondered if he'd pull though before, and he always had, so somewhere in our minds we thought "he'll make it. He's a fighter. He'll pull though again." He seemed invincible. This unbending spirit that wouldn't give up or give in. This time was different though. They really didn't think he was going to make it.
My dad and I were going to drive up that evening. I emailed all of my teachers, told them I was going to say goodbye to my grandpa, and got ready to go. My dad decided that we'd just get up early in the morning and go instead. We all thought he'd last another few days.
My Grandpa passed away around 2 am Thursday morning.
I didn't get to say goodbye.
I woke up to my mom opening my door. I knew the instant my eyes opened. I heard the words, but I didn't want to believe. I didn't get to say goodbye to him. I didn't get to hold his hand one last time. He'd left without saying goodbye? To me? I cried for hours. I couldn't imagine.... Never playing cribbage with him again. Never hugging him again. No more talks or jokes. Never hear his voice again! No more seeing his smile, or feeling the room light up when he entered it. The man who wouldn't quit, that unbreakable spirit... Was gone. It wasn't possible.
He was supposed to walk again.
I saw his body before he was buried. The coffin was shorter because of his lack of legs. I notice strange things like that.
It didn't look like him. Corpses don't smile, you see. And my grandpa did. He was always smiling
I touched the corpses hand. It was cold and hard. His hands were soft and warm. Some part of me still refused to believe.
I read a passage of the bible at the funeral mass. It was one of his favorites. My sister read the other one. All of the guy cousins helped carry the coffins. He was all about the grandkids.
I went through that entire day with barely a tear. Then, in memory of his military service in Canada, was the 21-gun salute. The started, and wouldn't stop.
It's still not entirely real to me. I was just over at the house earlier... It's just my grandma's now.... I still was expecting him to be in his chair or sitting at the table with his beer... For him to be just around the corner smiling and ready for a hug.
I know he's still with me, I can feel him there whenever I think about him, but the pain and the loss is still there. And I never got to say goodbye.....
I was going to write about the other side of my family tonight, but I kinda took a turn I didn't expect to and... Just can't do it now. Will finish this rant another time. Keep an eye out for "Family (with a Side of Camping)"
Thank you for reading my sobs if you got this far. It's been months now but... It's still very fresh and raw. I expect it will be for some time yet. Thank you though