So, as some of you may know, my grandpa died this past Saturday, as I was on the train back to Harrisburg for what I’d figured would be my final visit with him. When I saw him last Tuesday, he was still in good spirits, giving the nurses affectionate hell and cussing over the shakes in his limbs. Sadly, as Grandma Vera told me, he looked much better than he actually was. His kidneys were very, very weak, and his heart even weaker, and the wound on the sole of his foot had turned gangrenous. By Friday, it was pretty clear that Grandpa was on his last lap around. (I almost typed “leg,” but that would be inaccurate, although I’m sure Grandpa would have got a good chuckle out of the tastelessness of the remark.) Grandpa was always adamant that when it was time for him to go, it was time for him to go, and we were not to hook him up to life support or hover around his deathbed, wailing and rending garments. He wanted us to make him as comfortable as possible and die in peace, and thankfully, that’s what was done.
Grandpa was also adamant that after he died, we were not to steep ourselves in grief and crepe. (Smartass that I am, I felt it expedient to point out that if I wanted to steep myself in grief and crepe, he couldn’t do a damn thing about it, which made him laugh and, subsequently, embark on one of many lovely philosophical wanderings.) He had the sort of hard-nosed, genial personality that makes it fairly easy for even a weepy drama queen like yours truly to wipe her eyes and keep smilin’, as he was fond of saying at the end of our phone calls. And as Grandma Vera puts it affectionately (and secularly), Grandpa had the Devil in him. I’m not much of a believer in the afterlife, but I like to think Grandpa is up there laughing at the many little things that have gone wrong in the past few days, like the Amtrak conductors failing to announce that not all doors would open at Harrisburg and the many typos I made while trying to post on Twitter this morning.
Grandpa was also fond of wrapping up our conversations with the phrase “Honey, stay sober, will you?” This, of course, was the Devil talking – drinking was one of Grandpa’s favorite hobbies. So please raise a glass of Smirnoff and ice water, or a bottle of Miller Lite (any cheap booze will do – pennypinching was another favorite hobby) in loving memory of my grandpa, the unparalleled Richard, the Earl of Moore. And for god’s sake, keep smiling. Here’s the great Bugs Bunny in “What’s Opera, Doc?” to help you out. If I had a nickel for every time Grandpa and I watched Bugs Bunny together, I would have a hell of a lot of nickels. As Grandpa used to say, I just thought I’d throw that in.