A letter to my grandfather

Dear Grandpa,

Sometimes I think about conversations in my head that I may have had, or be having, with you if you were still alive. I daydream of calling you to tell you about my accomplishments, or ask you for advice. Our talks ended long before they were over.

You died in June of 2004, two months before I turned 14. You likely died on the night I graduated from 8th grade. As one of your only two grandchildren, the eldest and only girl, it was never surprising how exceptionally proud you were of me. You knew I was going places in life before I knew. You also were one of the few adults I knew your age that recognized your own mortality. When asked if you wanted a pacemaker, you replied “How many more years do you think you can squeeze out of me?”

Your life with my grandmother, and your wife, was truly inspirational. I’m realizing that more and more now. You stayed alive long enough to take care of her until the end – just several months before you passed as well. You took  your marriage vows seriously. You were far from the perfect man – they don’t exist, by the way – but you were honest, loyal, and true to her. You were dedicated to your family. Although you were a victim of social norms (never believing it was worthwhile for my mom to attend college), you had changed so much by the time I knew you. You respected me and thought the world of me.

Even in your last few months, you made financial arrangements for my brother and I to attend one of the best high schools in the area. It’s doubtful that my parents could have paid for that on their own accord. You valued our educations, and our lives, and wanted us to have the opportunity to achieve our full potential.

I’ve been thinking about you so much for the past few months. I graduated from Loyola last may with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. A little less than one month after I graduated, I began working full time for a company that had gone “out on a limb” to hire me nearly two years prior. They appreciated me enough to keep me on board.

About a month after that, I started dating the love of my life. The situation itself was slightly undesirable – a lot of feelings were hurt in the process of our “beginning.” Somehow, it all worked out for the better. We’ve been together almost seven months now. I’ve honestly never been happier, nor have I felt more right about something. I have my doubts on occasion, as we all do, but somehow we’ve made it through. I can truly tell you that I will be very happy if I spend the rest of my life with him, and I sincerely hope he feels the same way. I suppose only time will tell. I love him very much.

My finances, like many just graduated, are a bit of a mess. It’s never easy to pay all my bills, but I manage. I might not have the newest clothes, or even be able to afford TV, but I always have a full stomach and a roof over my head. I’m surrounded by my boyfriend and dog (yes, dog!), and I know that they love me dearly.

I wish you were still around to see all this. I still remember some of the lessons I’ve learned from you, like when you were helping me learn the states and capitals (Idaho – where all the “girlsies” go – to meet their “boises!”, or Salem – where the witches live). I’ll never forget our talk about when you served in World War II – I was one of the only people you had ever opened up to about that. I never knew you had been drafted, and actually did not want to go to war. It must have killed you when my uncle, your only son, signed up for Vietnam. Luckily, he returned unscathed.

In your time, knowingly or unknowingly, you taught me so many lessons that I still bear in mind today. You were the prime example of a life of hard work. You did not have a “white collar” job by any means, but you still made sure that you were always employed and able to support your family. Your hard work ethic was instilled in me; it is one of the prime contributing factors to any “success” I can claim today.

You also showed me what a loyal, faithful husband and father should be like. Although you were, at times, quiet, reserved, and distant, you made sure to show your love for us in whatever ways possible. You were not always flowers and candy – what I saw of your relationship with Grandma was never exceptionally romantic. But you made it a point to stay. After decades of marriage, you stayed until the end.

I also learned from you to be strong and stand up for myself. You were, as I knew you, a level headed man who stood his ground. You never let anyone take advantage of you; likewise, you didn’t take advantage of anyone else. If you wanted to know about something, you’d look it up. You may not have been the smartest person on the planet (I’m not either), but your search for knowledge and justice was instilled in me at a young age, and it’s something I’ll never lose.

I wish you were still around, Gramps, but I realize more and more that you don’t need to be. Somehow, in 13 years of knowing you, I learned enough from you to get me this far, and likely farther. I don’t believe in any gods, or in heaven, or in life after death in any way, so I won’t say “hi” to you from down here. But, I’ll tell the Grandpa that lives on in me that you did one helluva job setting an example for your grandkids. I honestly couldn’t ask for more.

With unending love,

Lana

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~ by ladybugblogger on January 27, 2013.

One Response to “A letter to my grandfather”

  1. If I could stop weeping long enough I’d hug you. You wrote this on what would have been my grandfather’s 104th birthday and for the most part you could have been writing about him. This is a beautiful letter. You were lucky to have him until you were 14. (((hugs))) (((big hugs)))

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