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Passing Away

by Tara

We recently received a phone call that my grandfather (my mother's father) passed away. His death did not come as a surprise, for he's been ready to go for quite some time now. The news came with a mixture of sadness and a bit of relief—we're all grateful he won't have to spend any more time frustrated by his failing body, but we'll miss him all the same.

My only regret about his passing is that he wasn't able to share what he knew of things like tree-felling, knife-sharpening, maple-syrup making, and mushroom hunting with Tyler and me. When he was in the prime of his life, we were far too young to know that we'd one day dream of living in the woods. I wish we'd been older, or he younger—then he could have taken us out to his beloved timber and shown us the ropes.

Uncle JL & Grandpa in the Timber
Grandpa and his Wood Stack

The visitation and funeral were as good as they could be. Our family was there, supporting one another, holding hands, crying, laughing, hugging, and sharing many stories and memories of my grandpa. The whole town of Bunker Hill, it seemed, was there to show their support to my grandmother, and to the rest of us. A heartfelt thank you to all who came, provided food, and offered their sympathetic words as the life of my grandfather was honored.

Lian Tying Shoes Three Generations (Tara, Grandma Jeanne, Mom (Lisa)) Thoreau Quote Grandma & Katy Hugging Uncle JL Grandma Jeanne & Aunt Betty Grandma Hugging a Friend

With so much intense living and dying going on in our family, we've been in touch with our own mortality even more than usual these days, finding ourselves keenly aware of life's brevity. All of the cliches are true, when one really considers them: Life is short. Carpe Diem. There is no time like the present. Live your dreams. Seriously, we have so little time on this earth. Let us make each moment count.


I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

Jack London

Our Land?

Grandpa, I wish you could see our land in Vermont—you would love it. I wish you could impart to us your woodsman's skills and your tireless stren'th—we're gonna need it. As I walk through our own timber, burrs clinging to my jeans, the bark of our maple trees rough beneath my fingertips, I'll think of you. I'll remember your wry smile and your rakish smirk, so rarely given but always appreciated. I love you.

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Tara, so sorry about your grandfather. I know it would have been wonderful to glean some of his skills and life experience. However, I can't help but think you have already taken a great gift from him in your love of the land and the lifestyle you and Tyler are hoping to build.
Posted by BB (Caro) on March 11th, 2012 at 7:55 PM
My deepest condolences for your loss Tara. I know this was a little while back, so I hope that you and your family are doing a bit better by now. I think that when we die we become part of everything, and so with that in mind I believe that your grandfather has seen your land and is very, very proud of you.
Posted by Magalie on March 12th, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Tara, I'm so sorry to hear about your grandpa. Inspiring post - i love the Jack London quote.
Posted by Elizabeth on March 13th, 2012 at 4:29 AM
Tara, our heartfelt condolences to you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather and wise words to live by.

Thanks as always for the reminder to really 'live' and make the most of each precious day.

Rik and Paula
Posted by Paula Bradshaw on March 14th, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Thank you, ladies (and Rik too!), for all of your kind thoughts and wishes. They are deeply appreciated! Magalie, I love the idea that when we die we become one with everything, and sincerely hope you're right. In the mean time, let's all get crackin' and live the hell out of today. ;-)
Posted by Tara on March 14th, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Thanks for sharing this tribute to your grandfather, and I'm sorry to hear that he passed away. My Memere (that is, French Canadian grandmother) died about three years ago, and I still kick myself for not soaking up everything she could teach me about loving the sunshine and tilling the earth. Then again, perhaps she taught me just enough for me to choose to follow her love of simplicity. It's a toss up. Some days I miss her as though my heart will burst and no doubt it will be the same for you. I hope you're finding peace in this warm weather.
Posted by SavvyChristine on March 14th, 2012 at 1:12 PM
So sorry for your loss. I'm sure you will do your grandpapa proud and will leave a proud legacy that silently represents both his and your spirits well, living within your self-created homestead in the woods.

Continue onward with your zest for living well and intentionally!
Posted by Sheila on March 31st, 2012 at 5:23 PM