Its very strange to have now lost both paternal grandparents. My father was taking it pretty hard the last few weeks - I had never really seen him cry like he did at the hospital last weekend - but overall he seems mostly relieved today. Both of his parents were very healthy right up till the end, and while in their 80s could easily pass for 60 somethings (heck, my grandmother looked 50). Still, when the end neared, it came quick for both - though not without causing some physical torment. The weight they both lost - and the aging they underwent - in the last few weeks was shocking to witness. To have them pass away within a year of each other is even harder still.
Grandpa was always exceptionally strong and in good health. After coming back from the war, he went and played professional baseball for a number of years. Even in retirement, when a hip injury and a bad knee hobbled his ability to play ball, he could still hit a baseball 300+ feet. It was simply amazing to watch him play.
Eventually, the realization that he had to make more money in order to support a family (this was back in the day before $20 milllion annual salaries and sneaker contracts) forced him to get a job and stop playing ball. He went off and started working for a guy from the neighborhood and quickly discovered he could run the business better than him. After a year he left, found an abandoned garage in an industrial area, bought some machines, and started a business selling soaps and laundry supplies. With one employee and one delivery driver, he would work during the day making sales and stay up all night filling orders. Soon, he former boss got tired of competing with him and decided to sell him the already established business. After a few years, he sold that and purchased a different - but similar - business, which my father and brother still run.
My grandmother, on the other hand, was pretty much the typical Italian grandmother - serving up wonderful meals and doting on her children and grandchildren. Even though they divorced in the late 1970s I still saw both grandma and grandpa often, growing up. I didn't understand why they divorced when I was a child, but do now. While my grandfather held no grudges, my grandmother despised him till the end - but usually expressed her dislike of him in a very humorous fashion and her under the breath comments still bring a smile to my face when I think of their extreme wit. She spent the last 30 years simply enjoying life, traveling with friends, and going to church.
I wish they were still here.
This is them back in the 40s, right after the war ended.