Visiting Grandpa HarryJuly 10, 2010 by Victoria Strong
I'm in Mississippi. Yes, M.I.S.S.I.S.S.I.P.P.I. -- the land of quadruple i's and s's and home to Grandpa Harry. My grandpa...my 105 year old grandpa! 1.0.5!!! This was a last minute trip, spur of the moment, as in I booked it and got on a plane in a matter of days. Harry is okay -- I just missed him and, well, finally got up the nerve to do this.
It's been a year since we drove across country so Gwendolyn and Harry could meet. ?A year since we borrowed an RV, plastered it with signs and created Sponsor-A-Mile. A year since we did things we never thought we'd get to do with our daughter and saw family we never thought would get to meet our daughter. Remember this? And this? And, of course, the highlight -->
It feels like just months ago, but, it has been a year -- a year since I got to hug my special Harry. I am so, so glad to be here. Harry is as A-mazing as ever! But, this is the first time I've ever been away from Gwendolyn. Sure a couple of hours while she's in Bill's care. And Bill and I felt very brave going on those two dates last year. But, I've never left Gwendolyn for a night -- let alone several. Bill and I have been talking about this trip for months and Bill has been encouraging me to go. I miss Harry like crazy. And he has had a lot of changes this last year -- hospital stays and he's now living in an apartment in a retirement community -- and at 105, well, I knew someday I would regret not visiting him while I had the chance.
I just wish I could bring Gwendolyn. It's bittersweet. I want to be here. I need to be here. I feel so supported and encouraged by Bill who is working from home, with help from Gramma, so I could do this. And I'm beyond thrilled to see and hold and hear the rich wonderful voice of my grandfather in person. I adore him. But, it also makes me wish my daughter, Harry's 13th and youngest great-grandchild, could be by my side and in Harry's lap. I wish I could simply hop on a plane with my toddler -- as challenging as I know that is. I wish she could kick the seat in front of her, throw a screaming tantrum, frazzle me beyond all get out. I wish that for me -- I wish that for Harry -- and I wish that for Gwendolyn.
While I feel this constant sadness in my heart -- I also recognize that something in me has changed. I'm proud of myself for letting go just a little to take this trip -- it was not an easy decision. Two years ago I could never have done this trip. A year ago I would not either. I promised myself in the beginning -- and perhaps foolhardily -- that Gwendolyn would leave this world connected to me -- the same way she entered it. I know I don't have control of that -- I know this in my mind. But in my heart I feel an enormous responsibility to protect her and be the one to let her go. I suppose it is more about what I need, but I also know Gwendolyn always looks to me, checks in with me, and I know she is going to need to know it is okay to let go. I'm not saying this is the right way -- in fact, it is probably not very healthy -- but the thought of losing Gwendolyn and not being there for her, not carrying her through her last breaths, well, it makes it almost impossible to leave her side.So, this trip is huge for me. It's me stepping outside of my comfort zone. It's me recognizing and releasing a false sense of control. And it feels time. (Although I still feel a bit on edge.) And Harry has once again guided me just by being who he is. And I know that this trip, just like our journey last year, will have an impact on my life with Gwendolyn.