Michael’s grandfather, Louis, died about an hour and a half ago. As I understand it his death was sudden but not unexpected; he was ninety years old, after all. He leaves behind four sons, one daughter and umpteen grandchildren and great-grandchildren and two infant great-great-grandchildren. Michael’s other grandfather and both his grandmothers are all dead also. They died before I ever met him.
Tomorrow my dad and I are going to visit the Cleveland Museum of Natural History where Dad is their associate curator of paleobotany. His duties for this honorary, unpaid position consist of examining and cataloging their collection of plant fossils, which is going to take several years. Every couple of months he goes to Cleveland and takes home several boxes of fossils, looks at each one under a microscope and identifies it, and when he’s done he returns the fossils to the museum and they give him some more. This time I’m coming along for the ride and we will go see the museum properly; I’ve never been there before.
Anyway, I expect I won’t get back until quite late in the evening; it’s an eight-hour drive round trip. I offered to change my plans and go to Michael’s parents’ place to help out in any way that I can, since he cannot due to work. Michael said that wasn’t necessary, though. He said to go to the museum and come and take care of his father after I get back. He also plans to loan them our cat for a week or so; both of Michael’s parents adore Carmen and I’m sure she’ll make them feel better.
I didn’t know Louis all that well (I think we met no more than a dozen times in as many years), but I liked him well enough. He was a good man. I remember interviewing him for an assignment for one of my history courses when I was sixteen or seventeen, and he told me about his World War II experiences (he was in the Navy on the Pacific front) and having to deal with racist people (Michael’s family is Hispanic).
Sigh. This has put me in quite a pensive mood. When a person dies all their stories die with them, all the things they saw and experiences they had, and everything they thought and felt about it all. Ninety years on this earth equals a lot of stories. Right now I am wishing I had known more of his.