Friday, September 08, 2006

Dr. Grandpa Fricke

My husband's grandfather passed away yesterday. I've only met him once, but he seemed to be a very intelligent and interesting person. He was a physicist, worked on the Manhattan Project and various other nuclear related research...and had an unhealthy obsession with cats (can you tell he's related to my husband?) In fact, at one point he had 96 of them in his home before the house was condemned.

At the time he was 94, living in a retirement home, completely deaf, shriveled and generally unhappy seeming. We chatted a little about mathematics and he showed us his various diplomas, publications and certificates. He was an academic with a failing mind. It was definitely depressing seeing what age and deteriorating health could do to a human. So, to be honest I was relieved to hear that he had passed.

I think my husband was too, but he was unable to sleep last night. Not because of his grandfather dying (although it is sad that Trav doesn't have any surviving grandparents anymore) but because of his own father's reaction as he noted below in his own blog:

My grandfather's death led to something I never expected to see in my life. When my dad called yesterday to tell me, he managed to get out "Your grandfather has died," followed by "Hold on." The phone went quiet for a few seconds, and I thought he was talking to someone else. After this happened again, I realized that he was unable to talk because he was crying. My dad, crying. This is a man who, during my whole life, has displayed roughly two emotions. His usual state of being is very normal. No great swings of emotion, with extremes at "mild annoyance" all the way up to "general happiness" or "occasional excitement." The only extreme emotion I'd ever seen from him was anger, and that was rare. It usually happened when he was driving and someone in another car did something really stupid/dangerous, or when arguing with my mom before (and sometimes after) they got divorced. Even when his mom died, I don't remember anything other than matter-of-factness. So to witness my dad unable to have a conversation because he was crying... Actually, it was a relief. It sucks that it took the death of his father to make it happen, but I now have definitive proof that my dad isn't a robot. That's comforting.


Post a Comment

<< Home