So I've been feeling a little weird about NOLA. I'm totally excited but I guess it's all hitting me at once, and I've been feeling a little weird about it. However, today, I received newly found momentum.
Today, July 13, will mark one year since my grandfather "Vati's" passing. This may seem like a random spot to write about this topic, however, I assure you it is totally appropriate and relevant, as well as it being all I can think about now.
Last summer, I went to Hungary with my uncle and a few others to work with Habitat for Humanity. It was an amazing experience, however, a few days into the trip, I found out my grandpa was not doing so well. I knew he had cancer, but it was sort of under control. He had a previous operation to take care of some of it, but chose not to go through chemo, a decision I both respected and selfishly hated. I knew he would soon die, which of course frightened me, however, I knew he would die on his terms in his comfort zone, and his wishes were well respected. When I came home from Hungary, my parents met me at the airport. We went to my house quickly and grabbed a bite to eat, and then my mom and I drove upstate to my grandpa's house. I lugged all my dirty stuff from my trip to my room, and then immediately went to my grandpa's room.
I wasn't sure what to expect. My parents hadn't told me much about his state, I think they didn't want to upset me on my trip. I walked into the room and saw my grandpa, my Vati, helpless in his bed. He was still very confused because he had just been on morphine which did not agree with him, but as soon as I walked in the room, his eyes became bright. We had explained to him that I had just come back from Hungary and he began to sing a little song about the Danube river. It amazed me that he was able to recall such facts, and we stayed up for a little while talking about my trip. After that I went to my room, began to unpack some of my stuff, and broke down. It hit me that my grandpa, my love, was not going to be around for much longer. I got it together and decided that I was there for him till the end, and would be as strong as I could for Vati. With that, I went to sleep for the night and then some because I was completely jet lagged.
The next month would be the biggest adventure I've ever been apart of. I was by my grandpa's side everyday, for exactly a month (June 13-July 13) and I wouldn't have it any other way. I begged to hear every story he could think of, every recipe he could come up with, I took in all his smells, how his face looked, and of course those beautiful blue eyes. I wanted to remember every last thing I could.
That month was no picnic, Vati had his good days and his bad. There were some day where he would go into the living room with us and watch The Deadliest Catch on tv with us and tell us stories of how to measure a crab and what the best ways to cook it were, but then there were other days when he wouldn't recognize where he was. My strong grandpa sometimes broke down and those were the worst times. He would look at me with his beautiful eyes and ask me, "why can't I just die" or "when am I going to die." He also admitted to me that he was scared to die. That was the hardest thing I had to deal with. I was never sure how to answer those questions because if it were up to me, we would both live together forever, but I did recognize that this was his journey, and I was truely blessed to have been able to be apart of it.
I learned so much in that month that I have never thought I'd learn. I learned what was important, and how much my grandpa meant to me. This is where this idea connects to New Orleans. My grandpa would sometimes talk to me as he was going to sleep. He sometimes said things about how I was so good to him, but sometimes he would give me advice or talk about the future. He told me I was going to be a good mom some day, and he told me to go out and see the world. My grandpa has been all around to world, and has told me of beautiful places. I always told him about my Habitat for Humanity trips and he was always so excited when I would show him all of the pictures. He would tell me how proud he was of me, and that positive reinforcement especially from a man as accomplished as him, meant the world to me. I really took it to heart and have decided to go after what I want in life, and live to my fullest extent. Going to NOLA next year may not be the best plan, but it's my plan to be happy and enjoy doing what I want to do.
When my grandpa died, I was heartbroken. He will forever be the strongest, most loving, most amazing person I have ever known. However, when he died, I didn't really cry. Yes he was gone, however, I had just spent his last month with him and I will never forget it. So this post is for you Vati, you will forever be my inspiration, my mentor, my favorite story teller, my favorite chef, my friend, my grandpa, and most importantly, my hero.