Life is a curious journey. I’m at a hostel in Arequipa in the south of Peru. I’m here for a few days catching up on work I am doing as a freelancer. I took a break yesterday to see more of the city I am in and learn about Peruvian culture.
Today I work again. I write. I need to. As first order of business I churned out a quick short story for submission to a short story contest ending today. I read about it on Twitter, checked the rules, wrote the story and submitted it all within one hour.
Writing is a way of coping. Thoughts I normally hold onto come flooding out. Why today, you ask?
Because today I mourn.
My grandpa passed away yesterday. My Mom wrote me an email overnight that I received first thing this morning. I was still in bed.
My first reaction was to put my tablet aside, roll over closing my eyes and conjuring his image. I said goodbye to my last grandparent.
You see, we weren’t actually related. He and his wife were our neighbours two floors above us in the apartment building we lived in. I’ve known them since I was six years old. My brother and I called them Grandma and Grandpa Wolf (that was their surname).
And that’s what they became, our surrogate grandparents. Despite having plenty of grandchildren and later great grandchildren, we had the same standing with them as if we were related.
My paternal grandparents passed away more than twenty years ago. I never really came to know them. My maternal grandmother also passed away quite a few years ago. I don’t know my grandfather, he may still be alive.
I’ve known my surrogate grandparents much longer and much better than my actual grandparents. After grandma passed away a couple of years ago, only grandpa was left and he was already ailing.
I made a point of seeing him every time I went home, but the last two times he was too unwell and not up for it. When I left to travel I knew I would not see him again.
I don’t know what happens to us when we leave this realm, but I hope that my grandparents are back together again. They’ve been married for over 60 years.
As it is, my parents are moving out of their apartment at the end of this year. They would have moved sooner had it not been for the reluctance to leave him behind. When I come home the next time to a different building, I won’t be looking up to my parent’s windows, and neither to the ones two floors above theirs.
It’s become an automatic thing to do, the looking up. So many times would my grandma be at the window waving down to us and us shouting a hello back.
That was a long time ago. I shall never forget.
Today I mourn, hoping they both rest in peace.