Today is a special day in the heart of The Bipolar Writer. It marks what would have been my grandfather’s eighty-sixth birthday. We lost him in July 2014 to cancer. I have written about my grandfather before, but he has been on my mind a lot lately. I know my mother misses him so much, so I decided to write this blog post.
To My Grandfather – Constantine Taniyo
My grandfather was a fantastic man, and he was born Constantine Taniyo on March 18, 1932, in Hawaii. I remember the stories he told me about where he was during Pearl Harbor. I remember as a kid in the first grade wearing my grandfather’s United States Army uniform to class for a project. My grandfather spent so many years in the military, and he was a hard worker.
He was a generous man. My grandfather always helped out my mother, his grandchildren, and his great grandchildren.
When I was growing up if I needed something (or if I wanted something) he was always there for me. As a kid, I remember coming home from school, and my grandfather would be there with a candy bar (it was a Mr. Goodbar for me.) During the summer months when my grandfather retired, he would always take us kids to the mall. I remember walking around and then going to McDonald’s for a big mac.
I was always close to my Grandfather growing up. When he got cancer, it was the worst possible thing, at least in my view. They gave my grandfather months to live, but he was a fighter.
One of my fondest memories were at the holidays. My mother and grandfather would always fight over everything, but especially how to cook the food. Every holiday they would be at one another’s throats. By the time the meal was prepared, they would makeup and the food was always fantastic.
I was close to my grandfather most of my life. For the last year that he was with us, I took care of him as he battled cancer. I made sure he made his appointments by driving him. When the home health nurses came, I was always there to let them into our house. I made sure that they took good care of him. I made sure my grandfather took his medication, and I also made sure he ate three meals a day or as much as he could. I was still a full-time student, but I always made time to meet my grandfather’s needs.
It was one of the worse experiences in my life when my grandfather passed away on July 3, 2014. I went deep into a depression cycle afterward that lasted to early 2015. It was tough for me because for most of the year leading to his passing he was always in good spirits. He was active even though he had to spend most of his time in bed.
My grandfather took a turn for the worst one day. It was so quick, as a family, we didn’t have time to breathe. One day he was okay, and then a few days later he was unresponsive. My grandfather died in his sleep. I am not sure I ever got over losing my grandfather.
It was a week later that we were burying my grandfather.
I remember how sad it made me feel that day. As if I could have done something to save my grandfather. I know that I have no control over cancer.
I thought for one, I would have more time with my grandfather. My second thought was it happened too fast. I lost him. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. There were times when I didn’t think I would make it leading up to the day of his funeral. I was a mess inside lost in thought of what ifs, and what comes next.
That day I thought a lot about the lost years of my diagnosis. The time I was seclusive and never spent time with my grandfather. The missed years with him will always haunt me.
It was tough for me because I was a few years removed from my last suicide. I didn’t think I would make past my previous suicide in 2010, and when I did, I had a new appreciation for life. I know that death is inevitable in all our lives. You are not supposed to outlive your parents or grandparents.
I wasn’t in the best place to deal with death when it happened in my life. I was too young to remember my grandmother’s passing.
For weeks and even months after we lay to rest my grandfather, I struggled in a deep depression cycle. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was starting to be a bad cycle. I would have vivid dreams that my grandfather was still alive. In these dreams, he wouldn’t have to eat, but he would always be there for me. I would dream of different days walking into his room to have conversations. For months that was all, I dreamt about most nights.
It’s funny. In my family home when things go wrong with the electricity, it is as if my grandfather is reminding us to never forget who he was, not that I ever could.
Today is going to be a terrible day. My grandfather will always be on my mind, but today will celebrate by honoring the great man he was to my family. We are preparing his favorite, roast pork, as we always do on this day.
Written by James Edgar Skye
Pictures from my personal collection