Yesterday marked twenty years since the passing of my Mum's Father. It was a curious thing to observe the marking of this moment. My Nanna, and her children wanted to acknowledge the day - and rightly so, it was important to them.
Yesterday I visited Pops grave with my Mum. I never really know what are reasonably appropriate thoughts to have while standing beside someones grave. I want to say, I miss you, I wish you were here - but in truth, I barely remember him. I do wish he was still around, for the sake of my Mum. I know she has withstood a lot of pressure over the past twenty years; as the only girl in a big Italian family - she has always been the first to be called upon, and the last to be thanked.
Some of the younger kids used to call Pop 'Grandad Whiskers' - because he had a scratchy moustache. When I try to remember Pop, recalling untarnished memories - I come up almost blank. I think I remember the sound of his voice - and how it lost its power as the cancer took hold. I remember his tanned, leathery skin; a tell of his hard working life in the sun. I remember his imposing, no mess demeanour - I think I recall him laughing, while telling Italian tales that little girls couldn't understand. I don't think he was mean, I think he was just a man of little nonsense. I remember the smoking. I remember being scared of him as he got sicker.
The day he died, I recall my uncles gathering at our house - men were crying; I was confused - but I knew deep inside that something had shifted in my family. I hid behind the wall, in the dark - wondering what was going on, trying to comprehend these adult words and emotions - I hid because I knew I'd be in the way, and mostly because I knew there was pain in that kitchen - and I didn't want to see my Mum's red watering eyes, and flushed face, because that is a sight I still find difficult to bear.
Sometimes I wonder who I might've been if he hadn't died. Would I have turned out much differently? Would I have liked him? Would he have liked me? Part of me thinks maybe he wouldn't have agreed with my life. And my Mum, would she still be carrying the weight of time and expectation if her father were still here?
Today we went to church - to hear his name spoken - another departed soul on the list. I feel alienated from the church - its customs and readings; I didn't go to be saved, although sometimes I think if I suddenly connected to it all, my life might be easier. I went as a mark of respect for the man that owns a little piece of me; for as he brought his family into being, so too did I follow - a small consequence of his life's actions. Blood of blood.
Tonight I feel sad, I don't really know where it comes from. I didn't go to the family lunch afterwards, and I hope he understands why. Just as I don't need to be in a church to connect to faith and hope; I didn't need to be in a room full of people to say goodbye. Perhaps it's fitting that this now 28 year old little girl, removed herself still, from the pained family kitchen. This is my quiet goodbye.
My life right now, is a little messy and uncertain - confusing and sometimes gut wrenching in its stalled nature - but I am trying. I hope he's looking down, nodding in agreement or giggling to himself. I hope he knows this is my hello, and my goodbye.