Dealing with the loss of a loved one

When I began my time as a journalist with the Sun-Gazette in 2005, there was one particular family member that was especially proud of his grandson.

My grandfather, James Kase Jr., worked for the Sun-Gazette for more than 40 years before his retirement. The layout of stories and photographs for the newspaper was done by hand at that time, which was my grandfather’s craft. Nowadays, page layout is mainly done by editors on computer software programs.

During my time as a full-time journalist for the Sun-Gazette until 2008, we would talk about happenings at the newspaper whenever we had the opportunity.

He’d ask about some of the few remaining employees from his time; I’d tell him about how quickly the newspaper business was changing. He’d tell me how proud he was of me, always adding “You’re doing a good job down there. Keep it up.”

My grandfather lost a battle with cancer recently. This not only has shaken the family because of how quickly the events transpired, but also because of his position in the family.

Poppy, as his grandchildren call him, was a happy-go-lucky type of person who lived a simple, content life. He never wanted for more in his life; he always was grateful for what he did have. I think about that a lot in my life when I feel that my want for more gets out of control. I ask myself if he would approve of his grandson’s actions. If the answer is no, it’s usually time to choose a different, more honorable path.

Unfortunately, a person’s first experience with loss typically is when grandparents pass. This is the third grandparent I’ve lost, and it seems to get harder each time. Maybe as I grow older those relationships become more meaningful to me. Maybe I now have a better understanding of what it truly means to lose someone forever. Regardless of the reason, I’m always going to miss my Pops. My heart goes out to my grandmother, who shared 54 years of her life with him.

The two had the sort of love you always hope to grow into one day. They might bicker over something silly as my grandfather always ended the tiff with a wave of his hand and the half-grunt “Ohh!” But then they’d share a look of love and a half-smile and you just knew they had learned to endure all of life’s hardships. My grandmother now has to start a new chapter, something I can’t even fathom after spending so much of your life with a loved one.

Talk about “new beginnings.” She has a wonderful family that will get her through her grief, but it will never be the same as the relationship she had with her husband. Maybe what weighs on me the most is the old saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” I float through thoughts of “I could have called him more often” and “I should have made more effort to visit.”

You can’t constantly punish yourself with these types of thoughts, but it’s inevitable that they come up. I can only hope that he knows how much I care for him and how he’ll be missed.

Poppy used to love reading this column, but I know he’d be a little embarrassed that I dedicated an entire one to him. That’s just the type of guy he was – humble and modest. I think that’s what I’ll always remember most about my Pops; qualities that should be more prevalent in this world.

Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, was a former Sun-Gazette reporter.