On the Ropes

     Life has a way of lifting you to incredible heights, instilling you with a sense of immortality at times and yet it also has a cruel sense of humour. Once you reach those heights, it’s like life then says to its cronies, “watch this” before spiking you back down to earth like the flesh colour volley ball that you are.

     My grandmother  (Nana)  died, passed away – what ever phrase suits your sensibilities best – Wednesday around midnight. It was a long five days of pacing the hospitals floors while whatever ate away at her spark of life took its time finishing its meal.

     85, by todays standards is still too young. Then again, that may be a statement tinted by my own proximity to that age. I’m sure teenagers everywhere still see 85 as ancient, but then their view is tainted by the vast horizon of undiscovered life that lays ahead of them. I can’t see fault in that view either, as I once stood in their shoes. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier.

     Suffice it to say she’s at peace now, at least I like to think that. I feel she lost her grip on continuing the journey when my grandfather passed away and that she has been waiting for this moment since then. I take comfort in the fact that, whether she was aware or not, her last few days were filled with the light banter of family as humour stood the ground as a defence to the grief.

     Now I don’t know what there is beyond, nor do I suppose to imply my ideas on what may or may not be (my apologies to the devoutly religious. I envy your unwavering faith in what comes after). I do know that I curse the emerging writer in me from time to time as my creative energies have dampened like a campfire in a rainstorm. Instead my head is filled with tear wrenching imagery that at time comes across as self-centered. Yes I have written a bit here or there, but ultimately when I re-read these little snippets, I can’t help but feel how much it is about me as opposed to the gravity of the situation.

     Now I’m no stranger to having written eulogies. I wrote my first for my grandfather and then followed way too quickly about my mom’s mother (grandma), and then my mother-in-law and my father-in-law. All of these were heartfelt and while they were easy enough to write, they were next to impossible to read aloud even for a ham as big as myself. This time, however, while the emotion is there, it remains unfocused.

     My dad is not handling this well and I have stepped in to bear the burden of my family’s grief, it is my job as the eldest to be the voice of reason, the rock when in fact I don’t feel much like either. I have broad shoulders though, and will soldier on. My sister’s organizational skills make it easy, as does my brother’s wit.

     Again I feel this is a self-serving post, but that is just the way I am. I have been instilled with a heathy dose of humility in my upbringing (though at times you wouldn’t know it). I constantly battle with self-doubt and insecurities that I hide behind humour and (at least I hope) charm. My mother keeps comparing me to my grandfather in that aspect, but I feel that while my sister is very much like my mother, and my brother like my father, I am a combination of both. Outspoken and firm in my beliefs like my mother and yet tempered with that second sight and level-head of my father. Either way I think we all turned out well and I am proud of my siblings; always have been.

     So, thank-you, mom and dad. Thank-you Nana and Grandad and Gramma and Grampa for making me who I am.

     I’m left with one question; why does it take loved ones passing on for us to realize the impact they have had on our lives. I suppose it is because we feel there is always time, always tomorrow, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

About Dale Long

Writing ambushed me from the shadows. At first I pushed it aside as nonsense, but luckily my wife and two girls saw the potential. Since then I have had an article published by Metroland, placed as runner-up and in the top ten in humour writing contests and various other contests. The icing on the cake was placing as runner-up in the WCDR's Wicked Words contest (130 entries) and having my entry published in the contests anthology of the same name. My entry was an exerpt from my upcoming novel, Echoes.
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10 Responses to On the Ropes

  1. Bonnie says:

    Very nicely done Dale. Although I one question, level-headedness? Really? Thank-you for being the rock. Love you

  2. Brad Long says:

    Thanks Dale. I wish that I could be as eloquent as you are in putting words into hard copy. I have really enjoyed reading your posts, except this one was very hard to read.

    • Dale Long says:

      It was actually cathartic to write. I find it easier to write things down than to say them aloud. It alows me to utilize my hind-sight, y’know, those things one wishes they had said?
      Thanks Brad, I hope it helped.

  3. Soul says:

    Wow. Believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel. My mom’s mom (Granny) passed away 2 months ago. She was 76, and it was unexpected. I’ve had people in my extended family die, but none that close. It rocked my world like nothing ever has before. Now I have it on my shoulders to try and keep my grandfather (Poppy) going. It’s a very hard thing to go through.

    My Muse actually kicked in when we were preparing for her funeral. In the space of 15 minutes I had written a song about her life, and I sang it at the funeral. It was beautiful.

    We are writers. There is no self service here, Dale. This is our outlet. Some people scream and cry, some over eat or don’t eat at all, some shut down completely or overcompensate by pretending nothing bad ever happened. We write. It’s what we are.


  4. mary long says:

    Once again Casper you put into words what we all feel .You’re calling has always been pre-ordained,now follow it through.Your dad and I have always been extreemly proud of our tribe, never more than the past week,you three have been our rocks without our, three stooges, it would have been much harder.NOW GET WRITING.

  5. Dale Long says:

    I wish I had this ‘calling’ earlier…
    Thanks Mom. I have started writing again already.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Hi Dale,
    So sorry to hear about your Nana. I am thinking about you.
    I enjoyed your piece and what comes accross most is the loving family that you are blessed with. Congrats.


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