My husband has some remarkable longevity in his family. Until just a handful of years ago, all of his grandparents were still living. The second of his grandfathers died last week at home. It was expected, but still difficult.
Harry was crazy athletic and physically active well into his late eighties, had served in the South Pacific theater (Guadalcanal), and was one of the first Marines to work with the nascent technology that would become radar. I never knew either of my grandfathers, but since I've been married for almost twenty years, Harry and my other late grandfather-in-law, Barry, filled those roles for me. They were funny, smart and unflaggingly supportive.
Harry was the archetypal patriarch, and a role model for us all. I feel especially fortunate to be a member of such a loyal and expansive extended family through marriage. Now, we will all worry about and dote upon his widow, left alone after seventy years. Hers is a position that seems both incredibly fortunate and incredibly difficult.