For those of you who follow my writings and my Yellowstone Web site, I received the very sad news that my grandpa, Kenneth Warren Macdonald, died of cardiac arrest last night at his hospital room in the Cleveland Clinic, where he was recovering from a stomach problem.
There is so much that could be said about my grandpa; he had a lot to say himself, having written a long autobiography of his early life growing up during the Great Depression and fighting in World War II. He was a vibrant man, and if any man will be remembered, it will be him. I was not able to see him just before he died, but I visited him in the hospital when things started going downhill. That was in the middle of June. Up until the very end, he possessed his characteristic wit. The last time my dad saw him, my grandpa kicked him out of the hospital because he wanted to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! That was quite appropriate, though that's not at all even the glimpse of a snapshot into who he was. My last memory of him was in the hospital ordering food, mocking the way room service was handled over the phone, and making jokes about the way hospitals charge patients for cable television.
He was a funny man; he was a complicated man; he was a deeply imperfect man. He admitted in his autobiography to war crimes during World War II; he admitted to me in letters having long affairs against his wife, one ending when the woman he had a 10-year affair with died. He was not always the best parent. For years, he supported apartheid in South Africa. He was extremely angry with me for protesting after 9/11. Yet, he was also a very dynamic man, who changed so much as life went on. From neglectful father, he became the most incredibly loving grandfather (and a better father to boot). From cheating husband, he was there hand and foot with utter devotion to his wife during the last 20 years that she suffered from Parkinson's Disease. From war criminal, here was a man who voted for Dennis Kucinich in congressional races (though he was still a Republican). He was deeply beloved by so many people because he was so alive, so complicated, and so dynamic. You can't possibly understand how witty he was, how able he was in telling stories, how generous and loving he became.
I miss him dearly.
Practically, I will be mostly away from the Web site and newspaper over the next several days but not completely away. It's very hard to catch up, and so moments where I can post, I will. It is hard to concentrate. I am sad that my child will never know his great grandfather. It would have been beautiful to see. Even so, that's the cycle of life. I know my grandpa's vibrancy is not something that will easily fade. He touched so many people beyond his family in so many ways. A couple years ago, he told me that he had come to terms with his life. At the time, he had prostate cancer and an aneurysm in his heart that could have gone at any time. He was ready when it happened. I am happy for that; I am happy in a way that it happened a little more suddenly for him because he was in some ways prepared for that reality and was able to meet it head on. I know that's a strange thought, but I think that's where he was mentally. It was sad to me to think he almost died while on life support without his children having had a chance to speak with him as he was, laugh with him, and be with him fully before he was gone. He got off of life support long enough for that; the rest was just bonus. He was ready, though we who loved him, perhaps, aren't as ready to see him go.
I miss you, Grandpa. I'll be coming home to see you, soon.