Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Sad News

I heard this morning that my grandfather died in his sleep last night. He had certainly lived a long life and had had the opportunity to travel across the country with my grandmother in their RV, for the past 15 years or so. Their pet projects involved Habitat for Humanity-type volunteering on various buildings, and they traveled from place to place looking to help where they were needed. Also about 15 years ago, my grandfather began experiencing heart problems and had a pacemaker installed. While he never tried to let it slow him down, eventually the years caught up with him and the last few weeks he’s had several serious bouts of pneumonia.

Its hard to describe how I feel, as this is the first time I’ve ever lost a close family member. I suppose “mortal” would sum it up well. Anyway, sometimes life surprises you. I was standing on the deck behind my house which looks over some woods when i saw a mother and baby deer tentatively step out and begin eating the grass. I must have watched them for 10 minutes before they finally realized someone else was there and bounded back into the woods. Obviously I’m not a superstitious person, but that felt like a gift in some weird way. I walked back inside a bit happier and more optimistic than when i walked out, knowing that that young life is out there behind my house, growing up.


  1. #1 Andre
    July 5, 2007

    Sorry to hear. My thoughts are with you.
    First family member I lost was also my grandpa. It really hurt. These days whenever I think of him I remember the happy memories. It really helps focusing on the good times you had together.

    Take care.

  2. #2 J-Dog
    July 5, 2007

    From your post, it looks like he was able to do what he wanted to do pretty much, so that’s good, but death is the one fact that unites us all. I don’t know what the heck that means, but it sounds kinda philosophical and so, worth sharing. Welcome back from China BTW.

  3. #3 Shelley
    July 5, 2007

    Thanks guys. Yes, he was able to do what he wanted, and a lot of it I believe made the world better. What else could anyone really ask for?

  4. #4 Rich
    July 5, 2007

    I know there are no special words that could make you feel less sad, and especially not any such words from someone you barely know, but I just want to say that reading about your loss of your grandfather has made me feel a little sad too and I’ll be thinking about you for the next little while.

  5. #5 Mark
    July 5, 2007

    Hi Shelley,

    My condolences on your loss.
    Is there some way your grandfather might really like you marking, or honoring his passing? In some wisdom traditions this is sometimes considered to be a part of “Good at the End.”



  6. #6 Sterling Camden
    July 5, 2007

    My condolences, Shelley. It’s always hard to lose a loved one, but you get to keep the love and the memories, and use them as patterns for new love and new memories.

  7. #7 Minnesotachuck
    July 5, 2007

    My condolences, Shelly. You were fortunate to have 25+ years with him.

  8. #8 Warren
    July 6, 2007

    I walked back inside a bit happier and more optimistic than when i walked out, knowing that that young life is out there behind my house, growing up.

    Not just there. Volunteering for organizations that do H4H-type activities provides housing for young human families that need shelter and protection as well.

    To have provided that is to have touched the lives of dozens, possibly hundreds — and that’s a fine legacy to have.

  9. #9 Ole Blue
    July 6, 2007

    I deeply regret your loss, and although right now it may feel like your heart has been tossed into a frigid stormy sea, at least your memories will keep you afloat.

  10. #10 Tyler DiPietro
    July 6, 2007

    This may be a bit belated, but I’m sorry for your loss Shelley. I understand the loss of close relatives can be very painful (I lost one to a suicide and another to lung cancer, so I’m also familiar with death under tragic circumstances). My condolences to you and your family.

  11. #11 Bob Abu
    July 7, 2007

    “This day you will be with me in paradise.”

  12. #12 Science Avenger
    July 12, 2007

    My condolences Shelley. I lost my first close family member recently, and it is difficult doing so late in life (yes, that includes you as far as this topic is concerned).

    It sounds like he lived a full and exciting life, and that’s all we can do. Cherish your deer moment.

  13. #13 Lab Lemming
    July 17, 2007

    Sorry to hear about your Granddad, Shelley.
    My folks just got to meet our daughter for the forst time this week, and I hope they have a long and meaningful relationship.

  14. #14 Abel Pharmboy
    July 31, 2007

    Shelley, so sorry to miss this news almost a month ago. I hope you are doing better now. There is always something eye-opening about losing one’s first close family member, especially such a neat and vibrant one at that. It tends to soften the edges, make you more accepting of those still with you, and more forgiving of those who have done you wrong. It also helps you value the remaining time you have with your friends and family because you’ll not only lose people in “old” age but also some before their time. Be good to yourself and cherish the memories.

New comments have been disabled.