The end, and what happens next.

We buried grandpa today.

This was my first funeral. And the first time I’d been present for an honor guard, the three rounds of weapons fire, the folding and presenting of the flag, and the three symbolic rounds given to my grandmother. Scott took that picture.

I spoke at the funeral. I broke down. I met Grandpa’s niece Sheila for the first time. I missed meeting Grandpa’s brother, Forrest.

I made meatballs for the wake, and drank Dead Guy Ale. We talked with Grandma about what was coming next, and I’m worried.

Before we went to Austin Funeral Home, I talked with Grandma about her outfit, whether it was appropriate to wear yellow. She said this was her best outfit, and she didn’t want to upset anyone with it. I told her that she could wear whatever she damn well pleased.

I wish my grandfather was still here. I’m afraid for my grandma. She wants to learn everything she needs to learn to be independent. But it’s all very difficult for her.

I tried to find a pillbox for her today, and the one I found was just too hard to use. I set up speed dialing on the cel phone and put the phone on a special table for her so that she’d always know where it was. They’re going to set up a land-line, but everything just takes too long.

I talked with my sister about what to do next. She lives the closest, and talked about bringing Grandma to her church, trying to get some help for the next few weeks. I keep thinking words like “transition” and “opportunity”, and I feel like such an asshole. My grandma is afraid, and I live really far away.

I got a sheaf of paper, and wrote a note to Grandma asking her to write for me. I promised to type everything up and send it back to her.

A few people from the church came to the wake, drank punch and paid their respects. Our cousins drove back to Spokane.

We stayed, and my sister’s boyfriend sang songs on the porch. I talked with my brother about his life now, and how he’s commuting to Butte for work on gas lines with the pipefitter’s union, and how his daughter is back in Kalispell. I reminisced about our father’s welding, and how he’d always been offended when clerks at trailer rental places questioned the structural integrity of his strange, custom-welded bumper.

Scott played with his nephew, I sat with Grandma.

The weather was perfect and the sky was clear.

I’m still up, writing lists. Wondering if I found all the important things, and wishing that I had more time.

Robert Clark: 1932 – 2011

My grandfather died on Saturday evening. It was unexpected. My uncle today said that he figured Grandpa would be around for another 10 years.

I spent a lot of my time with my grandparents until I was about 3 years old, and then frequently visited them until about 6th or 7th grade. Then, mostly holidays.

For most of my life, they lived in Libby, MT. I have fond memories of splashing around in a kid’s pool in their front yard, ducking through fencing and piles of electronics to pick raspberries in the summer, and watching my grandmother smoke in the kitchen while the dishwasher ran after she baked chocolate chip cookies.

My uncle taught me morse code in my grandparents’ attic. I spent way too many hours watching my grandfather solder strange machines back to life, and fix all of our neighbor’s TVs and many seemingly throw-away devices. He spent an afternoon explaining to me some conspiracy amongst hairdryer manufacturers, and how simple it usually was to revive a dead one.

I spent most of today sorting through his papers, and trying to make lists for my mom and uncle. I don’t really know how to say what it feels like to look through all of the paperwork, bills and stupidity he had to manage these last few years for medical treatment. Horrifying, painful and enraging come to mind.

I found pictures of my grandpa with his dog Tuffy. And pictures of me with Tuffy licking my face.

I saw my grandma in petal-pushers, with my mom at 2 or 3 years old. There were letters from old friends, some from people I’d never heard of. My grandfather was a private person.

He served in the Army from 1950-1953. He was stationed in Alaska before it became a state. After the Army he got a degree in electronics and eventually started his own business in Libby. He fixed things incessantly and couldn’t stand the thought of throwing something useful away.

He really liked coffee and cookies at 2am.

I miss him.