Nov 21 2006


My step-grandfather died last night. I just found out. At least, I think it was last night. Maybe it was this morning. I don’t know.

But I’m not sad. No, really! And before you think me heartless, let me explain. I have known him since I was about 4 or 5, but we have never been close. I grew up mostly in California and they (my grandma and my step-grandpa) lived in upstate New York. We saw them only every couple of years most of the time. Then they up and moved to Malawi, Africa with the Peace Corps and we hardly saw them at all.

It was kind of a shock when I learned that he had cancer. It was more shocking when I learned that he had been sick for some time but had been forgoing treatment and ignoring his doctors.

He was not a… nice man. He was rude and almost cruel to my grandmother. He was very controlling. He was strange to our whole family. When we visited one time when John and I were still dating (but living together already for years), he insisted that we sleep in separate beds. When he found out that we had pushed the beds together, he nearly threw us out. I would have understood if I had believed for a second that he was actually appalled and was so conservative that he didn’t want to believe that we slept together. But it wasn’t his sensibilities that were bruised. It was his control-freak nature. He wasn’t old fashioned, he was just kind of a jerk.

He ended up liking John more than he liked most of us, I think, because John could talk to him about everything. He was a very intelligent and educated man. He was a Urologist. He loved to talk to John about politics and religion and science, and John was so patient.

He had escaped as a child from Nazi Germany. Who knows what that would do to a person.

My grandma loved him, and if anything could make me sad today, it would be thinking about that. Despite his crumminess, she was loyal and loving to the end.

He had been bedridden for quite some time before he actually died. They were just controlling the pain, and barely that, I think, near the end. It’s better that he’s gone. He had no joy in life anymore it seems. He went very peacefully.

One of my favorite stories about him is that he performed his own vasectomy. Being a urologist, he was technically qualified. He got halfway through the procedure when he was called to a meeting he felt he couldn’t miss. He patched himself up quickly and went along to the meeting. Some time into the meeting, he felt a wet, sticky sensation in his lap. He realized that his patch job wasn’t quite complete and excused himself to go finish the job. Nutcase.

I know that my grandma is hurting. That is the hard part. But I also know that she is okay. My aunt, one of her daughters, lives in the same town and is with her today. It would be great if we could bring her out here for a little while. I bet a visit with Cole would do her lots of good.

I’m sure she is relieved that his suffering has ended.

Rest in peace, grandpa Nick.


  • By Beth Fish, November 21, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

    I’m sorry – death is always difficult even when there are challenges to the relationship.

  • By em, November 21, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

    Let’s share favorite stories about good ol’ grampy nick. I’ll go!
    One time, when my little boy was 3 months old and had been diagnosed with a fatal illness due to his small head circumference and my whole family was trying to deal with the horrible news, what does nick do? He calls Spencer a pinhead.
    Luckily Spencer turned out to be fine while Nick is the one who died within 5 years instead.
    Yes, I might sound awful, and I’m not sorry.

  • By sunShine, November 22, 2006 @ 11:35 am

    I am so sorry that your Grandmother is having to deal with the loss of her husband. I will remember her in my prayers.

    Perfomring your own vasectomy, yeah that is enough to certify you as a nutcase. EWE!

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