Grampa Harold went to Heaven last week.
I didn’t know him very well. I was a little confused, at first, when Mommy and Daddy introduced him as Grampa Harold. I already have two Grampas – Papa Bill and Papa Joe. But Daddy explained that Grampa Harold is Papa Bill’s daddy, like Papa Bill is Daddy’s daddy. Even grownups have mommys and daddys. And grampas, too.
He got sick right after my birthday. It was my sixth birthday, and we had a party, and Grampa Harold came with Aunt Kim. Aunt Kim isn’t an Aunt like Aunt Kelsey or Aunt Kathleen, or Uncle Kevin or Uncle John – Daddy says she’s Papa Bill’s sister, like Kevin is Daddy’s brother. And Aunt Kim has a daughter too. Her name is Jen, and she’s a grownup like Mommy and Daddy and Kevin. Aunt Kim tried to explain this to Kensie once, but Kensie was confused. She thought Jen was Aunt Kim’s friend. She didn’t understand why Jen didn’t have a brother. She’s so silly sometimes.
Kensie is my little sister. She’s five now, but she was still four on the day of my party. I guess I was still five, because I turned six on Wednesday, and she wouldn’t let anyone forget it. But don’t worry – when her party was a week before her birthday, I got even. At leastmy party was only a couple days before my birthday. Hers was a whole WEEK.
Anyway, Grampa Harold was there, and I saw he had a big booboo on his ear. Mommy says it’s not polite to stare, so I tried not to but it was hard. It looked like it hurt! I wondered why he didn’t put a band-aid on it, because they always make booboos feel better. So I asked Daddy. He told me that the booboo was something called “skin cancer,” and it’s caused by going out in the sun and forgetting your sunblock too much. Daddy said a doctor was going to fix it for Grampa, and that it didn’t hurt. Even still, I won’t ever forget my sunblock because I can’t believe that booboo doesn’t hurt just a little, and I don’t want a booboo like that.
The doctor never got to fix his ear.
Daddy and Mommy took me and Kensie to see Grampa Harold. Before he went to Heaven, Kensie and I were really busy. We had karate and school and t-ball, and Kensie had dance, but Mommy and Daddy still took us every day to see him. We saw Daddy’s whole family there. Gramma Liz was there with Papa Bill, and Aunt Kim and Jen were there, and Uncle Kevin was there too. Gramma Edith was also there. She’s married to Grampa Harold, like Mommy is married to Daddy. But she doesn’t live with him, she lives in a “nursing home.” Sometimes Daddy takes us to see her there. They put on a haunted hayride every year, and last year it really scared me. I’m afraid of ghosts. Kensie teased me but I know she was scared too. Aunt Kim said so.
Gramma Edith seemed sad. Everyone seemed sad. I was sad, too.
Grampa died on Memorial Day, which I had off from school. Mommy came upstairs and told me and Kensie. I asked Mommy if he went to Heaven, and she said yes. So I say he went to Heaven because that’s a good thing. At least that’s what I learned at Church. I went downstairs to give Daddy a hug. I told him not to worry because Gramma Edith is still going strong. And she is. That’s what Uncle John said. Not Uncle John who is Mommy’s brother, but the one who is Papa Bill’s and Aunt Kim’s brother. I have a really big family, so I hope you’re not confused. I know I get confused sometimes. I think that cheered Daddy up, though, because he laughed, and you can’t laugh if you’re sad.
We went to the “wake” and the “funeral.” The wake was the same day as my school field day, but I didn’t miss it because the wake was after school. I missed school for the funeral, though. Grampa Harold was in a wooden box with a lot of pillows. I noticed right away that they fixed the booboo on his ear! I was really glad, because it’s not good to take booboos to Heaven.
I had a lot of questions for Mommy. She told me the box would go in the ground, and that because Grampa Harold was in the Navy, he’d get a special service with a flag and a gun salute. I don’t like guns because they are loud and scary, but she said I didn’t have to be scared of those guns, so it was okay.
“Mommy?” I said. “I have one more question. Can he hear us?”
“Yes, Christopher, he can hear us. But he hears us up there,” Mommy pointed to the sky, “and in here,” and she pointed to her heart.
It was just like going to Church. The Priest spoke, and then Uncle John and Aunt Kim did the readings. They were crying. Then Daddy and Jen spoke about Grampa. He talked about how they used to go to a camp on a lake every summer and go swimming. I think I would have liked that camp. Daddy was crying when he finished, so when he sat down I gave him a big hug and sat in his lap.
I know going to Heaven is a good thing, but when people go to Heaven you can’t see them anymore. Mommy said I can still talk to him, just not in the same way. I know if Papa Bill or Papa Joe or Gramma Liz or Gramma Colby went to Heaven I would be really sad because I wouldn’t get to see them anymore, and have sleepovers at their house or go to the movies or to McDonalds with them. I would be very sad. But Mommy and Daddy said I don’t have to worry, that Grampa Harold was very sick and God said it was his time, and that it was okay.