in the name of the father

November 25. 1999

I had a rather unremarkable and disappointing turkey day. Blah.

Let me backtrack first. Since my sister was getting her impacted wisdom teeth out the day before Thanksgiving (ow) my family was planning on staying home, not going anywhere or visiting anyone, and having a nice, relaxed Thanksgiving Day at home. Then my dad calls and leaves a message on my answering machine on Tuesday night. "Beth, I don't know if Mom told you about Pop-Pop, but give me a call when you get in..." My grandfather has been in and out of the hospital since early October. My mind flew to the worst possibilities, of course. I called, and found out he and my grandmother were back in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins. He had to have three toes amputated. My grandfather has a blood circulation disorder. He had to have his right leg amputated above the knee a couple years ago, and since then has been in a wheelchair.

So that was the news. My father also informed me that all plans had changed, Lauren wasn't getting her wisdom teeth out, my mom had driven down to Baltimore earlier that day, and that we were spending Thanksgiving in Baltimore. I guess you can rightly call me a self centered bitch at this point, because I was bitterly disappointed at the loss of my comfortable, relaxed Thanksgiving at home. Instead, I was up at 9:00 today, on the road by 11:30 (I drove to Baltimore, I think my dad needed a break), ate a less than remarkable Thanksgiving dinner at some Hilton, visited my grandfather briefly in the hospital, got back on the road and was home by 6:00 pm. *whew*

I called my grandfather last night from home and had what was probably the most lucid conversation that I've had with him in years. He doesn't have Alzheimer's, but he often forgets people's names and gets confused. But he knew immediately who I was, and that I was in college, even that I was going to Temple University. We chatted a while about the merits of college, and he said, as he always did, "Never stop learning." He only ever had a G.E.D., but he has more wisdom than almost anyone I know. Wisdom that, I guess, comes only from life experience.

There's a picture on our piano at home of my grandfather when he was really young...right after he got out of the service in 1945 or so. It's strange to look at that picture, and then compare it to the man I saw in the hospital bed today. Whenever I see that picture, I just feel sad. Some sense of loss. I know I shouldn't be sad, because aging is a natural progression, but I just wish I could've known him then.

My grandmother and I were talking about the fact that I will be 19 in 5 days. Of course, there was the usual retelling of the story about how my Nana ( my great grandmother) and my Uncle Jim (who was 15 at the time) said dozens of rosaries while my mother was in labor with me, but then she suddenly moved onto new territory. She said, "You know, I think I started dating Poppy when I was your age...he was 26, right out of the service...we were married two years later." My grandparents' life was pretty much the typical experience of their generation. My grandfather came right out of service, they met in 1948, were married in 1950 and within 10 years had four kids. It's so odd and interesting to compare my life to hers...kind of disquieting in a way. To be married at 21, a mother by 24, it kind of blows my mind. My grandmother never had the chance to go to college like I did, though. From what I understand, she was quite a smart cookie, but it wasn't in the cards for her to have a higher education. My mother was first person in her family to have a college degree.

Well, on the upside, it was the first Thanksgiving I spent with my grandparents in about 7 or 8 years, since they are usually in Florida at this time of year. They'll be here for my birthday, too. It's so odd...the older I get, the more they mean to me.

Happy three month anniversary, journal.

music: Scenes from a Memory, Dream Theater
food: Thanksgiving. I feel bloated.
read: anatomy book
sight: lotsa work to do
random: "I try to see the good in people, but I'm constantly disappointed." - my Dad
Song Lyric:
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.
- the turkey I ate today (before it was slaughtered)