On Wednesday, I found out that my former co-worker Leo passed away. I’d known him for almost 15 years, and he was like a grandfather to me. His health hadn’t been the best, but it still came as a shock to us. I had just spoken to him last week (and realized how different his voice sounded) and he was seen at a food show as well. In a wheelchair, but there nonetheless. So we were shocked and a bit freaked out.
It didn’t really hit me until i was at the viewing and saw him there. He looked almost the same, which was cool (because sometimes despite best efforts, the deceased usually doesn’t look like him or herself) and he had his pipe in his pocket, which tickled me because he was always smoking that pipe! His car had that pipe-smoke smell, and I will probably always associate it with him.
Leo was a fun person to work with. He was always cracking jokes and lightening the mood. We got along very well, mainly because we both had dirty minds. 😉 When my mother couldn’t drive me to work because she was sick, Leo made sure I got there. When I had to wait outside for my hubby to pick me up after work, Leo would let me sit in his car with him so I didn’t freeze to death. I always thanked him for it, and he always said he didn’t mind. But no one else would help, and it meant so much to me that he cared enough to do it. He would also feed me baklava before I became allergic to nuts. Sometimes when it was slow we’d talk about things and he’d tell me about his time in the service, or past experiences being a salesman. He was driven to sell, and a good salesman, and taught us a lot. Up until he got sick, he was always there, always ready with a joke or a prank, always just being his crazy self.
He was 85, and lived a good life. I used to think he’d live forever, he was just so alive. And now, he’s gone.
So I have been in mourning. Weepy on and off this whole weekend. Unexpected things would hit me, like his famous sayings that I find myself repeating without a second thought. Just yesterday I said one, and my breath caught. He’s…gone. I’ll never hear him say another one ever again. And it would hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.
I’ve been thinking of the memories we made, and the things he taught me, and all of the good times we shared. And I get weepy and emotional, and it’s hard for me to believe he’s not in this world anymore. It’s inconceivable to me. But the reality is there and it hurts.
This is the first writing I’ve done since Friday. I tried — I had my document out and waiting, and…the words wouldn’t come. It’s been weird because I write through just about everything, and writing is my primary way of coping with things. A writer friend suggested that my muse was sleeping (after I said I thought she was in mourning with me) and to let her sleep. And I think that’s so true. Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the muse (or “writer brain” or whatever you want to call it) needs a break. It needs time to reflect and rest and maybe even to grieve, too. So I decided that I wouldn’t push it. If the words come, great, but if they don’t, it’s okay, too.
I haven’t felt like doing much of anything this weekend. I did clean, only because I had to, and I tend to clean when I’m upset. I keep telling myself that he’s in a better place, but my heart hurts. I feel his loss so strongly, it’s like my life has turned on its ear. He’s gone. The man who lived life so fully and was dear to me as a grandfather, is no longer here. How do I move on? How do I cope?
I’m taking one day at a time, and I know that in time, my grief will lessen and I will be able to smile instead of cry when I think of him. He impacted my life so much — he taught me that laughter really is the best medicine in all things, and his kindness…I hope to be as kind as he was to me. I want to live a full life as he did, and make memories, and impact peoples’ lives. He was a rare kind of person, and I will never forget him. Never.
I also believe that he’s still around in some form. When I tell some of his jokes, I’m sure he’s close by, laughing with us. When I look at his seat, and feel a presence, I’ll know he’s there. When I smell his pipe, I know he’s around. When I eat Greek food, and wish for the baklava he used to give me, he’s there. He’s everywhere, if I know where to look.
(I have plans to eat a donut in his honor every year on his birthday because he loved donuts.)
I’m also planning on dedicating Awaken Me in his memory. Why Awaken Me? Because he’d get a kick out of it. (Dirty mind, remember?) Maybe this will give me the kick in the pants I need to finish it and get it submitted somewhere.
So, Leo, my friend, your memory will stay alive in my heart. Rest in peace, and safe journey. You are deeply missed.