As always, it was such a pleasure to receive your letter. No worries about scaring me off. I’ve lived too long a life to be scared off so easily. You’re stuck with this old Irishman for as long as ye wish to be.
It is very sad to sometimes need to hide what we are. The world is a complex place made up of all kinds of people; some good, some bad, some in between, but all kinds of people nonetheless. Ye are very blessed, Miss Emily. Having loving people around ye to help ye feel your way in life is truly what is important.
Och, ye are most welcome, lassie. I fear, though, that perhaps my answers brought about even more questions to your already imaginative and active mind. As I said, death and dying is different for each person and most don’t make it back to tell about their personal experience. For me, it was like going to sleep after a very long day. For Lenora (yes, she died once too), it was an escape from an experience that was so sorrowful for her that she couldn’t handle it.
Forever. Aye, that is a concept that is hard to grasp. Most people, when they are young, have a hard time grasping the concept of five or even ten years hence, let alone forever. One day when my Lenora was recovering from her illness and relaxing on her bed, she called me to her side. “Grandda,” she said, “I was sitting here thinking about how old I would be when ye hit certain ages. I didn’t think I’d make it with nearly dying and all. But now, thinking about it, it’s hard for me to imagine how I’ll be when I’m forty and ye would likely be–” A shiver racked her and I knew instantly what she was thinking.
I gathered her close and spoke softly into her ear as if sharing a secret that would belong to only the two of us. “That is a long, long way off and we both still have a lot of living to do before then. What I do know is, even at forty, ye will still be my beautiful, sweet Lenora who I will be proud of, even from Heaven.” I kissed her cheek and continued when her arms tightened even more around me. “I can’t predict what will truly happen or when life will end for me. What I do know is that life will be rich and full for ye, Lenora. How can it not be for someone like ye? I bet ye’ll be a famous writer and have lots of kids and a handsome husband. I predict that after I’m gone, there will always be someone there to love ye and ye’ll eventually forget all about your old Grandda.”
“I could never forget about ye, Grandda, never, ever!” She hugged me fiercely and in that moment, I didn’t care about five or ten years hence. For me, that moment right there was perfect.
I reckon what I’m trying to say in this roundabout way is that elements of time, especially in thinking of forever, are not as important as what ye are living in the present. The older ye get, the faster time goes, and those priceless moments pass us by so quickly.
I hope ye found some solace when ye visited your mum’s grave. Sometimes it helps to just go and talk to them, even if they can’t answer back. I believe that when a loved one visits a grave, the soul of the one who has passed wanders fairly close and listens. Sometimes it makes the graveyard feel colder, like how ye were saying about the ghosts lurking about. Sometimes restless souls wander the graveyard, very rarely seen by the living.
My wife, Anne, passed on before Lenora was born. Och, I missed her so for the longest time! I turned to my hobby of woodworking to try to cope with the grief and loneliness of her loss. I’d go visit her grave and ask her to give me a sign that she could hear me. It tore my heart out knowing that she was lying beneath the earth and that I’d never see her again.
One day, Maggie planted some flowers and performed a spell to make them grow faster. Like your cherry blossom tree, those flowers bloomed bright and beautiful and were the most alive things in that graveyard. And do ye know, on that same spot, flowers always bloom every year. I think Maggie put other special magic into them to make that happen, but sometimes I like to think that Anne, herself, comes to tend them once in a while. Anne did love her flower garden so when she lived.
Ah, I did wonder if ye had some Oriental blood and now I know. Japan is a fascinating place to visit. Mathilda and I visited Osaka and Tokyo once, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The architecture is, indeed, lovely, the tea was delicious, and there was so much history to enjoy and learn. Ye must not feel badly about not experiencing a mystical blood tie experience. There is nothing wrong with that. It simply means that your heart is where ye live now with your family. Ye had a grand time and appreciated the things ye saw; that is what is important. As you’ve said, what matters most is that ye have people around ye who love ye and who ye love.
Och! Being an immortal is one thing but being a lonely immortal would be such an awful cross to bear. Forever is a long time to be lonely. I do have friends who aren’t immortal and I know one day, I’ll have to face losing them. I try not to dwell on that too much, as it would take away from the enjoyment I have from them here and now. All I can do is cherish the time I will have with them and enjoy it to the fullest for as long as we are allowed.
I don’t know that it wouldn’t have been easy to embrace immortality if I was lacking in immortal family members and friends to share it with. It would be terribly lonely to see everyone ye love grow older and eventually pass while ye remain the only ongoing survivor. Forever is a long, long time and I be thankful I have Mathilda, Lenora, and others to share that time with. I may lose some I am truly fond of but others will constantly remain with me.
It is not often I find a young person as fascinated with death as ye are. Most run from it like the plague. Others believe they are immortal when they are not. But ye seem to accept it and are even curious about it. Have no worries, lassie. I knew what ye were getting at. My death was nice. Slipping away quickly and quietly in one’s sleep, to me, is the most ideal way to go, but I am glad I had that last chance to say my goodbyes when I needed to go. I was ready but och, it was hard to see the grief from those I love. I didn’t suffer a long illness such aa cancer, so I’m at least thankful for that. I had it easy, really, and was even permitted to visit them when I was needed.
My family and I have truly been through Hell and back, and ah, thankfully, everyone is doing well now. We are all healthy and happy for the time being and are enjoying watching our family grow. My great-granddaughters, Andrea and Aurora and their partners have adopted wee girls, and Mathilda’s daughter Alina and her husband are looking to start their family. The poor dears are having a hard time of it right now with struggling with infertility but I believe it will work out for them. Lenora and Tyrone are adopting three wee ones, which I imagine she has already written to ye about. As for Mathilda and me, we will eventually have a child, I’m certain, but there is plenty of time for that. Right now, we are content to enjoy the family we currently have.
Ah,, ye would love Ireland if ye visited, I’m certain! From the pictures ye have seen, ye know it’s a beautiful, lush land with history embedded in every fiber. There is nothing that energizes the soul like Irish music does. Even when my body grew too old and frail, my heart continued to dance a jig every time my favorite tunes played. Ah, there were so many nights my Lenora would come to me all smiles. “Play some music, Grandda and let us dance and be cheery,” she would say. She would want to dance on and on and would only stop when I was too worn out to continue. It was such a joy for me to share such an important part of life with her.
Ye have a fine taste in books, lassie. Lenora always loved fantasy stories and she’ll incorporate elements of that in some of the books she writes. Lenora’s books are very popular, so it doesn’t surprise me that they were all checked out from your library. I tend to agree with ye about science fiction. Most I can do without, although I did enjoy “Ubik” by Philip K. Dick and “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. And, of course, who can resist comics? It’s lovely to hear how much ye are enjoying your current book. I lost a friendly bet with my Great Grandson, Chris, so as payment, I’m to read “Christine” by Stephen King. It’s a horror novel about a car with a bad personality who takes after her enemies and does away with them. She…the car’s name is Christine…does this with no driver and when damaged, can regenerate her parts to make herself brand new again. Very disturbing if ye ask me, but a bet is a bet and I lost.
As to my choice of reading material when I’m not fulfilling lost bets, I enjoy a good many genres. I like biographies and classic literature, but like ye, I enjoy fantasy, especially stories with dragons and wizards. As a boy, I was highly enamored of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Despite what I said about “Christine,” I do enjoy a thriller once in a while, and I like action adventure and mysteries. Once I am done with this renegade car, I intend to read “Watchers” by Dean Koontz, which is about a genetically altered Golden Retriever and the man who finds him in the forest. My other Great Grandson, Jonas, assures me it’s a fantastic book and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
Ye asked me about dragons. I do, indeed, know some dragons in real life. Alina has a black dragon who is a special friend of hers, and Mathilda has been seen in the company of several dragons. Although I have never seen one, I’ve heard legends of a breed of dragon called an American Amadeus. This kind of dragon talks to ye but not in regular speech. They sing their words and can only understand words if they are sung to them. Normal tones of speech are more like buzzing in the ears to them. They are known for their intelligence and loyalty to those humans they deem worthy of it and are even telepathic. Perhaps I will see one sometime, for legend says they are amazing creatures but very rare ones.
I will close for now and will look forward to your next letter.