Greta’s grandfather passed away sometime Sunday night. I didn’t get much of a chance over the last 6 years to really get to know him except the occasional visit, and, of course, providing tech support. He was part of the old guard – won his house in a poker game while returning from the second world war. Had a predilection for hunting animals, prepping the meat, and making art from their feathers or skins or whatever. I was never particularly into that but when you’re engaged to a girl who’s shot a deer or six, you get used to it and at least learn to respect it. The meat was tasty, wholesome, and particularly preservative-free, and the art was rather spectacular.
Greta and I visited him sometime in the last year – I don’t remember what for – but I do remember the conversation we had while Greta wasn’t in the room. He was sitting on a short bench, his feet wrapped in gauze and tight socks and swollen to about twice their normal size. I asked him, “How are you doing?”
He responded with some disdain for the exercise bike he had just dismounted. “Getting old”, or something similar.
I probably said something ineffectual at this point, like “oh”, or “mm”.
I can’t remember the exact words, but he looked me squarely in the eye, and said, “I’m getting ready.”
“”I’m getting ready for what comes next. When you get this old, you have to.”
I think at that point he knew this was the last time we would see each other. I made sure to shake his hand before I left.