Rest in Heaven, Grandpa: a eulogy

Bob

In memory of my grandfather, Robert “Bob” —-. I’m Danielle, his first grandchild out of six (almost seven). While he was obviously a great husband to my grandma Cathy, a great father to Steve, Pam and Andrew, a great brother to Ralph and Jack, and a great dog father to Gucci, I can say with all certainty that he was always destined to be called “Grandpa” to all of us grandkids, myself, Taylor, Kaitlyn, LeeAnn, Joseph, Jaxon, and Wyatt on the way. 

In general, the one thing we will all remember my grandpa for was how he never ran out of words. That man could TALK. For how much he did talk, he clearly should have become a preacher. He would’ve made a darn good one, too. Talk about “love your job and never work a day in your life.” He loved church and he loved talking. No one was safe from a conversation with him if you were blessed to be in the vicinity. I was going to say ‘room’ but his gift of gab was not restricted to four walls. When Steve, Pam and Andrew were younger, Grandpa would take them fishing every year. He would fish some, and he’d also make new friends on the pier. But how could you not talk to him? So kind, so friendly, so positive. I remember any time we went out to eat he would talk the server’s ear off. Let’s also not forget the casino bus month after month – banished to the back of the bus so he could talk to everyone else and not distract the bus driver with his nonstop questions. Plus he’d almost always be one of the last ones on the bus at the quick stops because he’d be catching up with everyone in the store and wouldn’t get his snacks or food until most were already back on the bus. I can only imagine how many people there are in this world whose days he brightened when they needed it most with his genuine, kind conversations. How many people he met in all his years of truck driving for Albertsons and AAFES who were held hostage to his endless questions, but would almost always walk away feeling some kind of appreciation for being noticed. As much as sometimes his questioning felt like too much, I always remembered that he wouldn’t ask if he didn’t care, and immediately I just felt loved.

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Turn the Page

Well, here we are. I am officially done with every part of the 2020-2021 school year. At the end of last summer, I had every doubt that I could make it through this school year in general without a full on mental breakdown. Every day challenged me in a new way, and forced me to look at my own life, thoughts, behavior, personal expectations, self-doubt. I learned who’s really on my team, and who wears two faces better than I thought they did. Most importantly, I learned that I can make it through anything.

It’s crazy how your own mind can work against you, convincing you with every fiber of your being that you are not worth the love and appreciation other people have to give; that you are not great at what you do no matter how many people tell you otherwise; that everyone would be better off when you’re not around.

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Teaching in a Pandemic (I CanNOT Survive This Twice)

Being a teacher this year has been one of the hardest experiences I have ever had to push myself through. I have written a bit on here about my journey being a 7th grade English teacher this year, amidst virtual learning, then hybrid learning, and now still hybrid but really like 80% face-to-face and 20% virtual.

Every part of this year has been so difficult. Let’s break it down.

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To My Therapist -a poem-

So my therapist caught me off guard yesterday. She’s moving up in the world and is transitioning to a new job. Next week is our last session together. I have a lot of feelings about it.

I came to you a broken mess –
a puzzle whose pieces
fell to the floor,
but I couldn’t find the way
to pick them up myself.

I cried out for help,
and you answered the call,
ready to take on everything I threw at you.

While I’m not perfectly put together just yet,
I see where the pieces will go,
and even though I’m sad our time is done,
I’m glad you practice what you preach:
you keep yourself number one.

I know it’s your job,
but I owe a lot to you.
I truly thought this year was
impossible to get through –
but look at me now,
stick kicking,
still fighting,
so close to finally feeling renewed.

Thank you for the last eight months.
I’ve learned so much about myself.
I know now there are better days ahead,
not just for me, but for you as well.

The Worst Thing About Masks -a poem-

The worst thing about masks
when you’re astute, aware,
intuitive to emotions
others are experiencing –

your eyes.

Eyes are a window to the soul, they say.
You give yourself away when your
Eyes don’t tell the same story as your words.
Squint, wink, blink, raise eyebrows.

So when I tell you how I’ve been feeling lately,
you hide your worry from your voice,
under your mask,
but I see it in your eyes.
I know you want to ask,
I know you want to cry,
you care, you’re concerned –
how could I ever think I wanted to die?
You stay strong,
but I feel your emotion inside
all because of your soft, sad eyes.

The mask makes them pop,
I can’t help but notice.
I feel worse knowing you’re worried;
you have enough on your plate
and now – oh wait – here’s one more thing.

Your eyes gave away
what you tried to hide.
The worst thing about masks
is your eyes are magnified.
I can see right through them,
you’re terrified –
I’m sorry I’ve become a burden.

Check -a poem-

On the outside
she looks like she’s barely trying.

On the inside
she feels like she’s slowly dying.

When would someone see
the signs of a broken girl
who’s running out of time?

Her mind – a hive
of soul-killing ideas
that she’s
unworthy,
unlovable,
unwanted,
undeniably unnecessary to anyone.

Check on your friends
who smile through pain.
Check on your friends
who work hard to maintain
some semblance that everything’s always okay
come rain, come sun, come cloudy day –

for the face they wear is but a mask
glue-filled cracks
waiting for someone to finally ask
“be honest, please, are you okay?”
so they can admit
“it’s all a display;
i’m so damn tired of being awake,
desperately looking to finally escape.”

Check on your friends before it’s too late.

Outlet -a poem-

The car-
a space to scream:
freedom to express emotions
weighing me down every damn day.

Therapy-
a paid person to talk to:
a judgement free safe space,
faced with a fresh perspective.

Social media-
A chance to forget:
forced you to find something positive;
we share a glimpse to create a narrative.

Journal-
a place to write:
journals don’t judge, paper doesn’t poke
until you break, desperate for happiness.

Words.
We all need a place
where we can use our words
to freely feel our feelings.
In this society where we’re expected
to fake it til we make it,
what happens when you can’t?

Max capacity,
living unhappily
until we deal with it drastically:

a temporary problem
solved with a permanent solution.

I’m Sorry -a poem-

I’m sorry
for venting
when you wanted quiet.
I’m sorry
for crying
instead of just being silent.
I’m sorry
for thinking
I had your shoulder to lean on.
I’m sorry
for relying
on the vows we agreed on.
I’m sorry
for asking
you to feel some emotion.
I’m sorry
for hoping
you’d have a solution.

I’ll just go back to keeping to myself
now that I know you don’t want to help.