Friday, July 22, 2005

Checkpoint Charlie - There and Back Again

Warning: Long Boring Post Ahead (by Brad)

Thank goodness for Dramamine. As Claire has mentioned, I recently returned from California on a mission to gather my Grandfather to come live with my folks. When I last flew in March I thought my insides were going to implode. I didn't actually vomit, I just wanted to die. So thanks to the miracle of Dramamine I had flights free of nausea. Although the kid reading The Communist Manifesto next to me made me a little queasy.

When I arrived I found that Hertz was out of the type of car I had reserved, so they bumped me up to a Mercury Grand Marquis, which was a little overkill for my purposes. Nice, though. Comfy. I was glad it had icy AC, too, because it was over 100 every day I was there (I know, Sojourning - I should quit my whining). Since I didn't have much confidence in the larder of an 82 year old bachelor, I made a quick stop at Subway before I finally arrived.

I had 4 days to round up whatever Grandpa wanted to have with him right away, as well as preparing the house to be put up for sale. There was a slightly tense conversation when I found that Grandpa had neglected to write on the calendar the dates I had given him. He thought he still had a couple of weeks left, so I had to carefully inform him that in fact we were leaving a little sooner.

I expected Grandpa to be a little more nostalgic and sad over leaving his home of 50+ years. If he was he didn't let it show very much, other than when he would say how much he was going to miss all the children in the neighborhood (he told me he doesn't care about adults anymore, just kids. Thanks a lot, Gramps!). I think he is just relieved to give up the responsibility of caring for a house. Added to that is having lived alone for nearly 10 years. It is no small miracle for him to have made this decision, though. He has always maintained that he would never move from California.

So my time was taken up with visiting the realtor, taking Grandpa to the doctor, puttering around the house doing things like anchoring the water heater against earthquakes (California code requirement), and people stopping by to bid Grandpa farewell. It was nice to have my cousins Nancy Thomson and Michael Pass come over with their families. I haven't seen them in ages and it was good to catch up with them. I can't wait for them to meet Claire. Dawn and Glen Rickerd stopped by with their two girls for an hour or two. I love talking with Glen. He always has something interesting to say – a walking encyclopedia. Grandpa wondered afterwards if there was anything Glen didn't know. I loved having Glen as my Sunday School teacher when I was a teenager. He introduced me to the nonfiction of C.S. Lewis, the recordings of pianist Glenn Gould (Glen, his 1955 Goldberg Variations lives in my car tape deck), and amateur radio.

Grandpa's neighbors threw him a BBQ Sunday evening, and it was very evident how much he means to them all. They were very sad to have him go, but they seemed to realize how much better off he will be. They were a very nice group of people, and I am very grateful for the way they have been looking after him these recent years.

There is only one neighbor who has been there longer than Grandpa. His name is John Silviera (sp?) and he is rather deaf. He called Grandpa on the phone several times and Grandpa hollered loud enough into the phone that even Mr. S. could have heard him if he had just hung up and stuck his head out the window. Mr. S. got it into his head that he wanted to buy Grandpa's lawn tractor, and it was very amusing to listen to them dicker about the price over the course of several days. One day I heard Grandpa's booming voice in the backyard, “are you trying to JEW ME DOWN?!?” Grandpa drives a hard bargain. He originally paid about $3000 14 years ago, and he wouldn't settle for a penny less than $1500. I felt bad because Mr. S. has a tiny lawn to mow, and the neighbors offered to mow it for him, but he had his heart set on Grandpa's John Deere. If it were up to me I would have just given it to him as a thanks for being a good neighbor for 50 years. Oh well. Maybe I will return some of his money when we go out in a few weeks to clean out the house.

Our flight left at 6 am Tuesday morning, so I told Grandpa that I wanted to leave at 3:45, figuring that he would be ready by about 4. Sure enough, 3:45 came around and he was still working his way through his bowl of cereal. We made it in good time to the airport, and our flights were pretty routine. As we were landing in Manchester a small child behind us softly said “weeee” and Grandpa joined in loudly with his own “weeeeeeeeee!”. Everyone around us was amused, but I was slightly embarrassed. That was probably payback for the time Penny, Robin Phillips and I flew from California and Robin and I mortified Penny by singing the doxology when they served us our meal.

Grandpa is settling in with Mom and Dad, and I am praying he will find it to his liking. It will be an adjustment for all of them, but with God's help all will be well. As much as I was dreading this trip I was amazed at how God clearly had His hand on everything. This morning I read in Psalms, “Oh that men would praise Jehovah for his goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” I would be remiss if I didn't give thanks for His tangible help through the trip.

It was very good to get back to my wife. I am so used to having her around that I felt dismembered the whole time I was out there. In a word: nightmare.

Claire and I are planning to go back out with Penny and Nate around the first week of September to clear out the house and figure out what we need to save. Anybody want to come along and help?


Me said...

100 degrees is worthy of whining, Brad, so no worries. :)

Glad you're back.

asaphat said...

So was the disclaimer "Warning: Long boring post ahead (by Brad)" provided by Claire or by Brad? I didn't think it was boring...thanks for all the details.

Kristi said...

So glad to hear it went as well as it did, Brad! Makes me kind of sad thinking of all the good times we had at that old place. It's like an end of an era. I guess that's life. I'm sure he'll enjoy all the children at Fairwood!

Christopher Trottier said...

Dang it, I haven't had a BBQ in a while.

Loreo said...

Brad, I loved hearing every detail of this momentous occasion! Glad you shared. Could I please come in September and help? I would absolutely love to (if you pay the ticket!) Ha ha! Could your Grandpa be more of a character? Have many happy memories of good times at his house. This is a sad but inevitable thing to happen. "A rather tense conversation," about dates, eh? Ha ha!

claire said...

The disclaimer was posted by BRAD!

kate said...

very interesting Brad! And thanks for writing your name at the top. I've had a couple of interessting moments reading a post and thinking it was Claire... until the context or some statement was all wrong. Very funny!

Michael Pass? Mike Pass? The one I know? How is he doing?

Brad said...

Nope, Katesj, a different Michael Pass. This one is my Uncle David's son. Yeah, since I seldom post I try to remember to tell people I am NOT Claire. Avoids confusion. Thanks for the comment.