Sunday, November 06, 2005


Mortality is the concept that everyone has to die sometime. We spend our lives dreading and avoiding the topic. We are always immortal until proven otherwise and many never want to be proven wrong. In the end, (if you’re not religious or superstitious) you never will know if you are mortal or not. The only way for us to realize our own mortality is to lose someone we know and love. Today, I realized I am mortal.
Around 3 o’clock my grandmother called, to tell me that my great grandmother has died. It was not a surprising death per say, but it was still shocking. Even when someone is just shy of a century, you still think they will always be around. My great grandmother lived a simple life in a small Russian town. She grew most of her own food; her bread came from one set of neighbors, milk from another. Her son was always close by, living in the same house as her. I did not have particularly close ties to her and in my last visit she could not even distinguish me from my father due to failing health. I can not say I was a particularly wonderful great grandson, having only paid her visits a handful of times in my life. However, I still remember her, I remember her house, I remember how I build little dams on the stream nearby and I remember how we hiked through the woods. I am afraid that those memories will be lost one day, but until then I will cherish them. My great grandmother was a religious woman, and I hope heaven treats her well. Maybe she can see down and see the kind of lives we made for ourselves. I wonder if she would approve of what we have become.
This loss is a first for me in many ways. I have only lost two people to death in my life before today. One was my grandfather and the other was a family friend. My grandfather died from a heart attack before I can remember. Our family friend died on a trip mine after landing a relief plane in some third world country; maybe that’s why I have never been a big fan of “make poverty history” and such aid campaigns. My great grandmother, though, is the first person I knew well and can actually remember, that died. To me this comes as a loss, but not nearly as much of one as it will be to others.
I am worried about my grandmother, aunt and dad. My grandmother was the one that called me and told me the news. She sounded alright, but you could hear sadness deep in her voice. It was the sort of sadness you would expect after someone comes to terms with the loss of their primary caregiver. My great grandfather died in World War II and therefore my grandmother was raised primarily by her mom. I emailed my father with the news in hopes that he would call grandma and talk to her. I understand email is not the best form of communication, but he is in California right now and it was my only way to reach him. My aunt is with my grandma in Novosibirsk right now and hopefully they can handle the events together as a family.
My relatives are probably coping and planning a funeral as you read this. I will not be able to attend the funeral due to expired papers, but I hope it is a nice funeral. I think it would be wonderful if my dad could attend, maybe he can get a plane ticket and fly over after he returns from the States.
For now, I am still in Saskatoon, but now with a better sense of my mortality.

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Anonymous Jesse said...

Strangely enough, when my grandmother died, I wasn't that sad. I'm still not. And she was a great friend to me. Why? Because she had a wonderful life, and had no regrets. At first I felt ashamed that I did not feel much remorse for her death, but truthfully I know she was a proud and happy and fulfilled person, and her life couldn't have been much better.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me, my grandfather died some years back, i think I was 13. I didn't really feel bad at first and that really bugged me. I attribute this to a number of reasons.
1) I didn't really know him all that well all that well and never really got super close to him like you always sees happen on tv.
2) I was expected we had visited him the night before and it was clear that he was probably going to die. So some time to contemplate beforehand.
3) I'm religious, and as such i have the convince of believing that they are going to a better place and I will see them again.
4) He was suffering and it was better he snuff it now then be in pain for weeks.


12:45 PM  

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