The news tore into me like a slow bullet. My breath shortened and my knees became weak. Without realizing it, I found myself seeking support on my telephone cabinet after the familiar voice over the telephone informed me that my grandfather, Thomas Springfield Sr., had died. After hanging up the telephone, I sat in my apartment – prepared for bed in my flannel pajamas – stunned. I didn’t sleep a wink that night. The feeling that ensued was somewhat strange. I was saddened that he had suffered a slow, painful death at age 75. But I was more dispirited for what would happen to me as a result of his death.
I once heard a historian say that when an elderly person dies, it’s like the equivalent of a library being burned down; all of that history disappears forever. Well, my eldest library was irreconcilably destroyed. A major link to my family heritage and history was gone forever and I was distraught that I hadn’t taken advantage of it while I had a chance.
No one person is to blame for that. We had not been extremely close, my grandfather and me. As a matter of fact, I can only remember seeing him twice in my life before I reached adulthood: once when my grandmother, Lillian Springfield, was alive and once immediately after she died. I unconsciously harbored ill feelings toward him as a child, as I had for my own father. They were both disappearing acts who managed to reappear with about the same frequency, leaving me with missing pieces to the puzzle of whom I was; pieces that I am desperately trying to assemble.
“I hope we get along.”
“I wonder what she’s like.”