Thursday, February 13, 2014

four years | why we work | the longest post there ever was

when I read the title to the "why we work" link-up, I immediately thought it would be about why I worked.  you know, at my job.  guess that is the tiny workaholic in me.  but then I read what the actual link-up entailed and loved it.  I feel like it should be a series.  I could write about so many different people.  why my husband and I work.  why my best friend and I just get each other.  I could also write about why I don't work with some people, but that is a different story for a different link-up.  but yesterday, out of nowhere, it hit me who I would be writing about this time.
by the time you enter your twenties, you usually know what it feels like to lose someone close to you.  yesterday marked four years of losing my granddad and somehow it still feels like it was yesterday.  some people are close to their family and some people aren't.  I am an only child, so growing up my grandparents were a large part of my life.  we spent most weekends going to see my grandparents because there was nothing else to do and my cousins were there a lot for me to play with.  I am not much of a writer, which made me wanting a blog make zero sense, but I have one paper I wrote in my college career that I didn't make a D on am actually proud of.  we were told to write a memoir of sorts.  it could be about ourselves or someone else.  I decided to write about my Pepa and for whatever reason, I felt the need to share this paper with y'all today.  I promise I will get to the point of this link-up soon.  it's lengthy- sorry.  but I guess the best explanation of why I chose such a strange subject for this topic is that sometimes my family just gets it. 
we work.  
I won't go as far to say that there weren't hormonal teenage days that I yelled, "YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!" at my parents.  but the older I get, the more I realize that they get me.  I think I owe that partially to biology, I mean we do share blood and they are my blood relatives.  but then if that is the only reason why we work, what about the people who are united with our families by marriage but feel like they have been there since day one?  I think it is the legacy left behind from those who leave this world before that unites us and makes us work.  would I have ever in a million years met my little cousin who is into farming, roping and being the best dang cowgirl you have ever met had she not been my cousin?  maybe, but probably not.  but who did I text yesterday about missing my Pepa because she is one of the few that understand?  my little cousin.  because we work.  she gets me.  because of the legacy he left behind and the memories we shared with him.  we both strive to be the best people we can be and although I don't consciously consider what he would think in every situation, I know his voice is there.  he helped shape me into who I am today.  that's why my family and I work.  we were shaped by some of the same people and share memories and experiences no one on the outside could understand.  we work because we know each others' weaknesses and love each other anyways.  we work because we support each other not only in the good times, but also in the bad.  we work because we get each other.  I can't explain to anyone else that didn't know my granddad why it was so important for my boyfriend at the time to meet him before he died.  maybe because I secretly knew he was the one and he is now my husband.  yes, my Pepa was ill and wasn't himself.  but, my husband met him and for that split second he saw one of the most vulnerable parts of me and got tossed into this insane family of mine.  I said I would save the why my husband and I work for a different post so I am stopping myself here.  now that you've fallen asleep twice- I will quit rambling today.  I put my paper below, feel free to read it if you are still awake you feel like reading my college paper.  (yes I know there are grammatical errors in this whole blog in the paper, my professor kindly marked them with bright red pen.  but everyone likes the original, right?) 
don't forget to link up with Life of Bon and The Daily Tay and maybe if you're into romantical valentines stuff, you will write about how much you oolala love your significant other and not be a freak like me and totally screw up the link-up.   
Final Essay
I remember my Pepa saying, “Be careful eating that, make sure you don’t swallow any of
those watermelon seeds- you might choke! Or, even worse, it will make you grow a watermelon
in your belly like mine!” I was five years old at the time, and proceeded to not eat watermelon
until I was ten because I was terrified of a watermelon seed somehow implanting in my body and
causing my belly to grow as large as a six-month pregnant woman’s. Little did I know fifteen
short years later this silly moment would play through my brain as if it was a scratched records
playing over and over. From the watermelon incident up until I was in junior high, my
weekends were highlighted with these trips to my grandparents and being my Pepa’s little
“dude”. My Pepa would take me to My-T-Burger, and despite my complaints about his slow
driving, he never pushed the gas over 23 m.p.h. in his red, Ford truck because he “wasn’t in any
kind of hurry, the way your daddy drives is going to make me peel you off the highway
someday”. But nonetheless, he let me order half the menu, knowing there was no way my little
seven year old stomach could hold a burger, an order of nachos, AND a milkshake for after. He
would take me to help feed his cattle, drive me through pasture to find the longhorn, only for me
to get scared and refuse to get out of the truck. But some of the moments I cherish the most are
the million games of dominos he would play with me, sharing his childhood stories time after
Through junior high, I thought I was “too cool” for sitting on my grandpa’s lap, or
listening him tell me the same story for the millionth time. Unwelcomed, these memories seem
to burn through my mind as well. I was fortunate enough to have a birthday exactly one week
after my Pepa’s. It wasn’t until high school and probably after about the tenth birthday cake we
shared that I realized what a man of integrity my grandpa was. It was around this time that my
grandpa, a farmer for all of this life, decided it was time to retire. It seems like his retirement
resulted in my Pepa seeming “old” for the first time. I had never realized just how easily he
bruised, or how thin his skin was. And, had those wrinkles on his face always been there? It
seemed that every trip to Wellington we took, another wrinkle was added to his face. Pretty
soon, the realization of my grandpa’s aging really hit me. What about our last birthday party? It
was my sweet sixteenth birthday and his seventy-fifth. Seventy-fifth? Was he really seventy-
five? I still have the picture we took stored in my memory. I plopped my sixteen-year-old body
right on his knee and we held up our cake to take the picture always requested by my mom and
my grandma. It was always the same routine, a birthday cake would be ordered from our
favorite bakery. It was to be split down the middle, decorated with our (mostly mine) individual
requests on each half. Pepa never had specific requests; the things he loved were very simple.
He loved his family, he loved the color red, and most of all, he thought Ford was the only
company capable of making a reliable car and he thought John Deere made terrible tractors. My
mind runs back to this picture every time I think about the birthdays we shared. I always wanted
to sit on his lap, it made me feel young again. It wasn’t until his surgery that I found out about
his bad back. Bad back? But I just sat on his lap last time I visited, that cannot be possible.
Nevertheless, it was possible and he would be having surgery within the next few weeks.
Routine surgery, although recovery would be difficult due to his age. His age? How old is Pepa?
My Pepa was over ten years older than my Nena (my grandma). After the surgery, things slowly
went downhill. We all tried to blame it on recovering from surgery. None of us would admit
that maybe this surgery was too much for his body to handle. Things got worse, and worse. He
was unable to attend my high school graduation. I refused for him to not be a part of that special
day, so I snuck my phone backstage and called him minutes before I walked into the auditorium.
I told him I was about to graduate, and he told me I wasn’t allowed to do anymore growing up
until he said it was okay.
Summer passed, he continued to hurt all over, but taking him to the nursing home was
out of the question. The care they provided in the small town, nursing home down the street was
inadequate. It was decided that my grandma would take a leave from her job to care for him in
the home. Soon after, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. It became too
much for my Nena to handle, and there was no other option but the nursing home. We moved
him in, decorated his room with numerous pictures of all the things he loved: pictures of his
family covered the room, red curtains, and of course, his favorite cowboy, John Wayne. Pepa
was so popular. His dry sense of humor, and sarcastic remarks put him in the running to be any
nurse’s favorite. But, between all the decorating, visiting, making sure he was comfortable in
this space, none of us realized he had lost all his strength and could not do anything on his own
anymore. He did not have the strength to walk, and we urged him not to try without someone
there to help. Then the phone calls started to come. Although the phone calls seemed to come in
handfuls, often one after the other, I can still hear the first phone call play over and over in my
head. My mom called, “Pepa fell, his head is gashed open, it’s bleeding everywhere.” I had
never heard my mom cry. I had never heard my mom so upset, and unsure. This would be the
first of many hysterical phone calls my mom and I would share over the course of the next
couple of months. Several staples in the back of his head later, he proved to be the fighter we all
knew he was and fight through the accident. It wasn’t until a few months later until things
would get serious in a matter of a few doctors trips. Pepa was having stomach problems, this
required many trips to the doctor to try to alleviate the situation. But one special trip changed it
Pepa had been taken by the nursing home van, over to the clinic. Another doctor’s
appointment with no answers, and he was sent back to the nursing home with hopes of this new
medication working. The woman responsible for driving him back in forth loaded him into the
van, and began to drive to the nursing home. “Pepa’s hurt, and in the hospital. His wheelchair
tipped over in the van when the driver turned a corner,” my mom cried into the phone. Trying to
process what had happened in my head led me to a million unanswered questions. “What’s hurt
on him? His wheelchair tipped over…how does that even happen?” Come to find out, the driver
forgot to strap him into the van properly. I’m sure he wasn’t the first she slacked off on, and
probably not the last. But, this was MY grandpa. You don’t just forget to strap in MY grandpa.
Within weeks of this accident, his lungs began filling with fluid.
My Nena, such a strong woman and never wanting or needing anyone’s help, called my
mom around two o’clock in the morning during one of the biggest snows we would have all
winter. My mom immediately woke up my dad, and relayed all the information to me as they set
off around two-thirty, “They think this is it, we are going to lose Pepa.” I was devastated. There
was no way I could get there. A one-hundred mile drive through a blinding blizzard on back
roads would be impossible at this hour; I would have to wait until the morning. This was our
first scare out of three we would have over the next two weeks. I finally found a weekend to
leave town, and drove to see my grandpa for what would be my last time. I was warned he
wasn’t talking at all, and his coloring was bad. That trip is so surreal in my mind, and such a
blur. All I remember is kissing his head telling him how much I loved him before I left. I made
sure he knew it was me, his little “dude”. A week after my visit, my grandpa passed. I
remember the day he joined the Lord so distinctly. It was a Friday morning at nine, I was sitting
in statistics class. My mom had told me the night before that the death process had started
settling into his body. He was “mottling”. I had no idea what that meant, so I pulled out my
phone in class and began to Google the death process. I texted her to ask how he was doing, and
tell her that I read up on “mottling” and that he would live at least twenty four hours after this
process set in. It wasn’t but two texts later, at 10:14 that I looked at my phone and got the text.
“He’s gone.” I immediately called her, and repeated over and over that this was for the better. I
repeated it, not only for her sake, but also for mine. That day seems like so long ago. The
service was a blur, but so many people shared their special moments they had with my Pepa.
Nothing could compare to the moments I shared with him. On the day of his service, I had a
moment alone with my grandma, “I hope to someday find a man that loves me as much as my
Pepa loved me and find the relationship the two of you shared.” She simply replied, “Your Pepa
was so good to me, and you will find someone just like him. Don’t rush it, just let it happen.
The right one will come along in the right time, it can’t be rushed.” In that moment, the sun
peeked out from the clouds. He was smiling at us. He was telling us it was all going to be okay,
to not rush. It seems that he lived his whole life, in his own time, never rushing.
Today, I find myself thinking of him at random times. Randomly coming across things
he loved, such as the Texas Rangers game on tv, make me smile and remember all those special
moments I shared with him over the years. What a blessing it was to have shared twenty years
with such an amazing man. I look back on that first memory, and still feel all the love my Pepa
had for me in his heart. I was his favorite, or at least that’s what I told him. He would only
reply, “that’s a matter of opinion.” It things like this that make me smile and have that warm
feeling in my heart.

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