Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Alan Pedersen--In Memory

When I was a little kid, I was afraid of my "Grandpa Pedersen." I was scrawny and shy and he was imposing and seemed not to be fond of kids, or at least not sure what to do with them. His house didn't have the same homey warmth as my other grandparents' house; things were much more formal and structured. I have lots of good memories of times we visited, but in my younger childhood my grandpa doesn't figure prominently in those memories. I have general memories of sitting quietly and receiving Christmas gifts I didn't really understand. To a child, a piece of paper with "Procter and Gamble" written on it is not really exciting (although of course now I appreciate everything he did for us).

I remember the exact moment the image of my grandpa changed for me. It must have been sometime when I was in college, around the time my grandma's Alzheimer's was starting to get pretty bad. My sister and I were alone in the dining room with Grandpa, and he cried. I had never seen him cry, nor imagined it was possible. He had seemed to me incapable of showing that kind of emotion. I don't know if my grandma's condition changed him or just brought out parts of him that had been hidden before, but that was when I started seeing him as a human being rather than just a vague figure who watched football and liked loved Tabasco.

In the last years of my grandma's life, it became clear how much my grandpa loved and cared about her, sparing (it seemed to me, at least) no expense to ensure she was comfortable until the very end. At the time she died, they had been married for 68 years. Think about how long that is. I feel like losing someone after that long must be a bit like losing a limb. Of all the changes in the world he saw during his lifetime (the 20th century was quite a time to live through), I imagine that may have been the most dramatic. He visited her grave every day.

Although he was in his 90s, he still drove and was very active. He always had a computer and was able to use AOL Messenger. He was extremely generous to Hunter and me, especially after the tornado, and he also was a huge supporter of the University of Oregon, which you can read about in this link. He actually got to see them play at the Rose Bowl, and I think also the national championship game they played against Auburn (that happened, right?). I never thought I'd buy sports team clothes for a baby, but I'm thinking about it now.

He died a little over a week ago and I was completely unprepared for it. You might think that when you know someone who is 92 years old, you could lose them at any time. However, he just didn't seem that old. As I said, he still drove, still used the computer, lived by himself in his own house. It hit me like a ton of bricks that only a day after Hunter and I were talking about how excited we were for him to meet the baby, and how he could probably learn to use Skype, those hopes were gone forever.

My sister said she wished she had gone to visit him one more time. I wished I had been in better communication with him since he moved to Germany. However, I realized that thinking about things like that is a waste of time. I don't think there would ever come a point, with any person, where I thought, Well, that's squared away. I'm prepared for this person to die now. He never got to meet Baby Scunter, but we were already planning on naming the baby after him if it was a boy. I hope it's a boy.

I'm going to leave you with a video my sister made last spring. I know a lot of you won't be interested in a video of someone else's grandpa talking, but just watch a little bit and be amazed that the person in this video is 91 years old. He had his real hair and his real teeth, which I can't get over. I will always miss my grandpa, but I am so glad I got to know him better in the past few years.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your Grandpa, Scarlett!!

    I love you,
    Uncle Joelfre