And then my grandfather died.
And it sucked.
I mean just really sucked. And it still does. I am stilling trying to grasp the fact that I am never going to talk to this amazing man again, never going to talk about my crazy hound or how I keep killing mint plants in the desert.
It is not easy.
Fortunately, I am a part of an incredible family that is strong and full of love. And I have this freshly-minted husband who signed up for a “better or worse” deal with me. So I have been coping.
Unfortunately, Homeboy had to fly back to the east coast this weekend for professional commitments, leaving me to cope with nothing but a smelly hound dog and a few bottles of Cab.
Since our honeymoon, we’ve been focused on living a healthier life, which includes being more active and eating more foods that we cook at home. However, I know that in times of stress I love to binge on crap food, booze and cigarettes and most definitely not whole grains, exercise and proper fiber intake.
Anticipating the time that my buddy, my Homeboy, would be gone during this trying time in my world was stressing me. How would I still eat vegetables? Would I be able to resist indulging in the hooch? (Answer: No, based on the two wine bottles that appeared in our recycling bin in the 7 hours since he left.) Nonetheless, I knew I needed a coping plan.
And the answer was bacon. The thought of eating a pound of bacon over two days brought me great comfort. I know I can get up and run with my smelly hound if I get to come home to fresh juice and scrambled eggs with bacon. I can resist the usual vices if a BLT is on the dinner plan. Before he left, I told Homeboy of my grand plan to use bacon as a crutch and he approved, telling me of the German word Kummerspeck, which literally means grief bacon.
Grief Bacon. Now that’s a concept I can get behind.
Kummerspeck is a word the Germans use to describe the excess weight gain due to emotional eating. Now, I wouldn’t know anything about what that’s like…
But, grief bacon? Now you're speaking my language. And based off my first night without my Homeboy, but with a dinner of a BLTE on na’an, I can say it is actually working (The empty Cab bottles mean nothing!) I am finding comfort in the delicious cured pork belly, knowing my grief bacon is just a few feet away, ready to meet a sizzling hot skillet.
And somehow it all sucks a little less.
Below are the words that I spoke at my Grandpa’s funeral. I don’t actually remember if this is what I said, as it was all so surreal and when I sat down after I swear I spoke Latin for the three minutes I stood before my family. But, they are the words that I had written down on a few sheets of paper when I tried to collect my thoughts. They are the thoughts that will carry me through the hard time.
Well those thoughts, and the grief bacon.
Bob had seven grandkids; and we all came at him like a Blitzkrieg, one after another for a few years. Sometimes I felt lost in the shuffle of my cousins. My cousin Rachel stole my distinction as both youngest and youngest girl, just leaving me as #6 of 7.
Grandpa Bob made each of us feel special. When we turned 12, we got to take a ride with Grandpa on his motorcycle. I was so excited for my chance and watched my older cousins get their ride. I wanted my moment with Grandpa.
Unfortunately, I never got my chance as my Dad vetoed the ride for my brother and I. Bob sold the bike before I was old enough to make the choice for myself, so I never did get that ride; but I did develop an irrational fear of motorcycles.
There were some perks to being amongst the youngest in our pack of seven, too. I went over to visit with Bob and Jerry when I was 19, and Bob offered me a bottle of beer. At first I thought it was a test, but then I chalked it up to the fact he probably didn’t realize I was not 21. It was the first time I ever saw Natural Light in a bottle. He never once forgot a birthday, but keeping track of our ages once we turned 12 (and then some) and got that motorcycle ride it didn’t matter.
I loved the relationship I developed with my Grandpa Bob as an adult. The older I got, the conversations got smarter and he got a bit looser with the tales he told – telling me of his times hitchhiking as a young man and sneaking my Aunt Kris into a Vegas casino when she was underage.
For me, though, my favorite memory of my grandfather was from 2nd grade. Walbridge Elementary had Grandparents Day where students’ grandparents could come in and have lunch and recess. I was so nervous about spending an afternoon with Grandpa because I had never really spent one-on-one time with him. When Bob arrived, we got our trays of mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets and he started asking me all sorts of questions. Grandpa was so interested and excited to be there. I remember looking around and seeing the face of obligation on the other grandparents- but not mine. I beamed as I proudly showed him my art on the walls on our walk to recess. I asked Grandpa if he wanted to join in my favorite game – kickball – and he jumped right in. He was great, kicking the ball over the outfielders’ heads, snagging up kicks at shortstop.
I did not realize at the time the advantage a man in his 50s had over a group of 7-year olds. I was just in awe of my Grandpa’s kickball skills.
Us grandkids are all going to remember Bob for different reasons- camping, fishing, a motorcycle ride perhaps. But for me, he will always be the Titan of the Kickball Field- a man who made me feel so special over a tray of chicken nuggets in elementary school.