Frisbee (disc) golf wasn’t much of a thing at the time, but it was spreading over campus and it didn’t look too athletic or difficult to me. It was something people did with their dogs, and I did love the dogs. Cloud, Kashiba, Fred, Kahlua and numerous other campus dogs helped with the missing of my own family dogs, and especially my grandfather’s mitten-stealing Britney Spaniel, Shim.
My grandfather was dying, but I didn’t know it. He had struggled and prevailed over health issues for so long, I’m not sure anyone thought he would leave us, ever.
A childhood friend’s dad died, and my dad called to tell me. Dad had never called, mom was the communications engineer, so I expected some bad news.
“Mr. G died.” (I can remember the hot stinging tears, and the furniture in the room twirling around. My immediate goal was to hold myself together until we got off the phone, and to do that before I passed out.
“There’s more bad news. Your grandfather has died too.” As horrific as this news bulletin was, my initial thought was “what is this, you were practicing with Mr. G. before telling me about Pop-pop?”
It was January 1978, I had 2 hours to pack and get to the airport, my grandfather and my best friend’s dad had simultaneously checked out, and I was about to miss some class-work of my freshman year of college. I was wearing a pink and brown plaid skirt when the family picked me up at the airport and took me directly to the funeral parlor. I didn’t pass out completely, but I came close enough that my appearance there was truncated: all this phoning, planning, flying, absenteeism and I had to excised from the wake by my big sister.
After the funeral we had the customary after party, complete with relatives I didn’t know and a missing Britney Spaniel. Consistent with the delivery of other bad news, it seemed prudent to the family to ignore the fact that the dog was absent unless I asked, which I didn’t. Instead I cried into my pillow that night, I cried for Mr. G, for Shim, for the damage to my grade point average; I cried mostly for the loss of my beloved Pop-pop.
I flew home and received a skull-crushing “C” in Winter Term. This is when I should have learned the life lesson that nobody cares about your extenuating circumstances, but I didn’t.
That night, I flew home from the funeral and went to watch the campus dogs playing Frisbee. George had long silky hair and few teeth. He was not anyone I was attracted to, but his peaceful calm demeanor was a good balance for my crazy ups and downs. We somehow ended up in his room, where he held and comforted me. I remember a feeling of surprise, poking me, nothing unpleasant, nothing pleasant. My. Grandfather. Was. Gone. And somehow, I had to go to school tomorrow.