Monday, March 26, 2012

Memories of a name gone by

Its been quite a while since my last blog, and though I had every attempt to keep posts coming regularly life always seems to get away from us. So lets see where did we last leave off? That's right it was about the Karnival. Well a lot of life has happened in between then and now, so let me do my best to catch everyone up. But don't worry I'll do this in a few posts as not to overload you or myself with one truly massive post.

Sadly our first topic has a more of a sad tone than the other wills, but c'est la vie such is life. Near the middle of February I was informed that my paternal grandfather's health was fading and would probably only have 6 months at best. That time frame made it dangerously close to before the time Mariko and I returned to the states. My father and I collaberated on dates for my to fly out to visit while we had time and we scheduled it to be the beginning part of March.

As luck (or perhaps life is a better term for it) would have it, my grandfather passed away before my scheduled time to fly out. A quick few conversations later and I was on a slightly earlier flight out to Southern California. Both Mariko and I were a little nervous about my trip for a few reasons. The largest one being that in the near 5 years we have been together we have only been apart longer than a week, and that was in the VERY beginning of our relationship. Take that reason and combine it with the fact that Mariko would have to survive in Germany without me and you can see why I was a little nervous.... she is constantly getting lost and hasn't had to cook much since we arrived here (its why she brought me).

The funeral aspect of the trip was also a bit different for me, as this would only be my second funeral to ever attend. The first was about 10 years ago for a great-grandparent. A just-out-of-teenage-years 'adult' takes things much differently than an adult that has had time to mature and think things through a little more. From past experiences though I feel that I handle death a little better than most people, granted I have never lost someone truly close to me just yet.

On that note let me tell you a little about my relationship with my grandfather. We were family but we barely knew one another, as I could count the number of times that I remember meeting him on one hand. The Alexander men in general have problems communicating, though I notice that with time things are improving. Now don't think that means we don't care or want to know what's going on.... we just don't feel the need to make a call every other day unless something major has happened. And I think after a while of not talking, it just starts to become more of habit than anything else.

The last times I saw my grandfather was May 2011 as my dad, my sister and I left to finish moving his belongings down closer to where my father lived. That trip was the longest conversation I have ever had with him. We talked about many things including his childhood, raising his children and even his time in Germany during and after WWII.

The funeral itself was a small close group of family and a few friends that were there to lend their support. My sister read some words about grandpa for my father and my brother-in-law's brother was asked to read some bible passages that my sister picked out. The chaplain that had met with my grandpa during his stay at the hospice hadn't known him very long, but she seemed to have a good grasp of him. My younger sisters both stood up and spoke about him and some of their memories, it was very touching to hear both of them speak about him. I did not stand and say anything, knowing that I can usually write what I want to say better than speak it.

I carry two things with me from Leo Eugene Alexander. First, while moving him out of his apartment both my sister and I were able to take some small things of his for mementos... I found an old money clip of his, bearing his intials. Knowing that money clips aren't all that common anymore as life moves more towards the digital, I use it as a book mark. Every time I read my books I am able to get a little reminder of where I came from.

The second things I carry is a little more special to me, and it also connects me to my father and unknown great-grandfather, the name Eugene. It was my great-grandfather's first name and has been the middle name of 3 generations of Alexanders, and if I one day have a son it will be 4 generations.

I will remember Leo Eugene Alexander for the life and name that he passed down to me, the humor that was a big part of his life, and for his love for flirting with the ladies (that was apparently passed down with the Alexander name).

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