On Saturday, Alison updated her Facebook status to read:
For those of you who knew my grandpa, I’m sorry to say that he passed away on Friday morning. For those of you who didn’t know him, I’m doubly sorry, because Norm Sculley was the greatest guy I ever knew. You would have loved him.
Aside from a couple of wakes I’ve had the terrible occasion to attend, I’ve only been a part of one funeral. It was my father’s, back in 2007, which seems like forever ago. Three years later, I’m still devastated by his passing and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.
This was about as devastating. And it would be very easy to think, “Well, it was your wife’s grandfather. It must be sad, but you must have expected it. And it’s not like he was your grandfather.” I’m putting words in your mouth, I know, but you’re wrong. I come from a very small immediate family, the only child of two first-generation immigrants to the country. I know most of my gigantic extended family on my mom’s side and know nothing about the family, if there is one, on my father’s side. I lost the only grandparent I really knew into adulthood earlier this year, but even then I hadn’t seen my mother’s mother in fifteen years. Alison’s family IS my family, very largely due to the fact that her grandparents welcomed me into their family from day one, with no questions asked. In a lot of ways, they are my grandparents. I just didn’t know them as long. One of Alison’s relatives, married-esque into the family, said “I wish that I knew him earlier. It feels like I missed so much.” I feel the same way, and though I don’t know that my sorrow could match any any of my in-laws’, my own sense of loss is profound.
I feel like my grandfather died, because he did.
What I remember from three years ago is really hazy, just a fast-forwarded blur filled with gritted teeth and tears. Yesterday, I had the honor of serving as a pallbearer with my sister-in-law, my cousins-in-law, and my brother-in-law-in-law. At the end of the service, I had what felt like a near-out of body experience as a final blessing was said over his casket. I could see my in-laws following behind and I could only make out the faint echoing words of the priest as he concluded the Mass. It was eerie and made the hair on my arms stand up. I saw living sadness walking towards the church doors. I saw my family with their hearts ripped out, but also carrying about them a sense of peace. Sad and serene — but much more sad — at the same time.
He really was a great man, and he will be missed dearly. You can read more about him here.