Dear Tim and Elyssa,
as you know we have had some deep emotional days down on the island. My grandfather passed away and I am really sad about it. Of course I do understand the way of the nature and the fact that he was very tired in his last days, but the island has lost a big part for me now. I really did have a special bond with him because of all the silent hours we spend together fishing on his precious boat. Until I was 19 years of age I used to spend my whole summer holidays on the island, and I kept visiting as much as I could while living abroad. I don't know.... It just felts empty in the house.
Here is my story of he last 12 days on the island.
The next morning we set him at the table in the kitchen. The doctor said that he mustn’t lie in bed the whole day or he will get lying wounds. And that would hurt and ... it just would become a messy business of pain and blood. He couldn’t sit by himself. We would place pillows around his back and front to help him sit straight. We had to feed him and give him drinks. But he could say a word of two as an answer to simple questions. He called my name and put his hand over my head, gave me a feverish weak kiss on my lips. I have made a photo album of my last year stay on the island, and a A4 framed picture of all of us that I made last october. When I pointed at you, he said "Timothy". It was very nice to see the difference of his straight in the morning hours. From Wednesday till Monday noon, when he died, he would be brought to the kitchen table at 9.30- 12.00. Sometimes he would look around of just listen with closed eyes. He made so much effort to make contact, by smiling and squeezing my hand. In the afternoon he slept. I stayed holding hands of singing lullabies in . He ate enough and had a good hart. For a day or two, it seemed that Katica and my father could turn out right and make a come back. He was not in pain. He was just quiet and patient. Never the les, he asked for a priest. Don Tiho came on Friday and Grandpa was so happy when the priest entered the room. While I had to cry while he was doing his last confession, I had never seen a man so happy to participate in these kind of rituals. It was amazing.
He stopped breathing on Monday 24 of July at noon. It was my father and me, that were bringing him to bed from his kitchen sit. Those two minutes from when he was holding my hand really tight till the moment that he let go, felt like a whole two hour movie. Still I was not scared. We called to everyone in panic and I volunteered to take care of Grandma while the suit was put on him and his body taken to the first floor, room organised etc. She was in shock and it took her a whole day to stop hitting herself (or me), mentioning the soup she made for him and was getting cold. In the end the medicine and hours of fear, shock and crying made here fall a sleep. I slept with her while my father was placing death announcements around the island at 1 o’clock in the night. I thought it was best not to mention to Grandma the practical fuss my father and mother were dealing with. If she felt like seeing the body, I would wait for here.
The funeral was sat on Tuesday 25th at 18 hours. Cousins and friends came from as far as Zagreb in no time. It is amazing what had to be organised and how well my parents managed that. On the day itself, a priest came into the room. The casket was closed and we prayed. Grandpa was carried from his own house, that he was so proud of, on to the car. A long line of cars drove to 200 meters away from the cemetery. We walk in a formation towards the church as the bells were tolling. My brother , policman , postman and Light tower watch where carrying the casket, while me and my brothers girlfriend Monica walked beside it with palm leaves in our hands. There was a mass and he was lowered into the family grave. Around 150 people scattered, and the family returned home .
It was the morning after that I felt pain when I saw his slippers under the bed. My brother took youngsters on the boat, and I it was then that I really missed him. I just have never been in that boat without him. The sound of the engine just belongs to him.
Four days after the funeral I flew back to Holland. Now that I am back in Amsterdam, I think how happy I am that I could be with him in these last days and the moment he died. I still could stay with Grandma and family in the days after. It was so nice to meet Katica and her husband Silvo. They really are the most unselfish positive people I have ever met. I am proud of my grandfather, of his way of life and courage. With great care and consideration I have made a speech for him and a collection of photographs of his last days among us. Not to show his weakness, but the spirit within. I have just put them on my website still not knowing if this is ok or not.
Thank you for calling.