I like to write serious posts on Friday. Why? I’m not exactly sure.
Today would have been my Grandpa’s 86th birthday. Happy Birthday, Grandpa!
When I started writing this post I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about it. I could give a list of my Grandpa’s accomplishments, I could talk about his life, who he was as a Father, Grandpa, Uncle and Friend. But there is not one single thing that would fully encompass the truly great man that my Grandfather was.
He was a man who had no problem telling you when you needed to straighten up and get your act together. A man who loved a good joke, talking about current issues, and being with his family, he was quick to say how proud he was of our accomplishments, and even quicker with a hug and an “I love you.”
How do you talk about loss? Someone is there, and then they are not. The space between you and them seems to be widened by eternity. There is a stark difference between what your relationship was like before, and what it is now. It’s suddenly not as easy, no phone calls with their voice on the other end, no visiting with them, you can’t ask them questions, can’t hear them saying that they are proud of you, or that they love you anymore. Certainly you know that they loved you, and that they still do, but it’s not the same.
And choruses of people telling you that they are “sorry for your loss” and that “he’s in a better place now” aren’t able to fill the gaping hole that is left in your heart. A pain that you didn’t know was possible until now.
But it does get better, it gets easier, and you begin to heal. A scar is formed on your heart and you are stronger now than you were before.
Grandpere, we called my Grandpa this when he lived with us. I don’t know that anyone else in the family did, but my mom has a knack for nicknames and so when he moved in he was naturally given one as well.
In honor of his birthday I have decided to make a reverse acronym with the name Grandpa, I tailored it specifically to my Grandpa, and his life.
The most important thing to Grandpa was his faith, he went to Mass every day courtesy of EWTN, prayed the Rosary, and his greatest desire was Heaven.
During his lifetime Grandpa wrote two books and a Mass Setting. Words and music. Writing words was a challenge, something that he embarked on as an example to his grandchildren. He wanted to show us that even though something was hard and difficult didn’t mean that it wasn’t worthwhile. I never asked him about his music writing, but knowing him, I think it was more his speed. He was a musician from a young age and even met my Grandma at choir practice.
A- Apollo program
Grandpa was an engineer, a problem solver. From his beginnings in the Air Force as a RADAR operator, through his work on the Guidance Computer for the Apollo Program that landed a man on the moon, Grandpa was always thinking about ways to come up with better solutions to the problems that he faced.
N- our aNtecedents
Grandpa, with the help of Grandma, wrote the story of our ancestry, they called it Our Antecedents. All the way from our first ancestors who came to the “New World” in Canada, to their own children. They spent years researching to see where our family had come from. A very unique gift given to us grandchildren.
D- Dial soap
This is the soap that my Grandparents bought…the gold variety. The smell always brings me back to my childhood.
P- the village Players
The Village Players was a musical acting group that Grandpa was a part of. He was a part of many other choirs, as well as the Choir Director at church for some time. He loved to sing, something that he has passed down to many of my uncles and cousins. He had a wonderful bass voice.
A- Air Force
During the Korean War, Grandpa enlisted in the Air Force. He spent time in the frigid cold of Labrador and Greenland as a RADAR operator. He helped to guide planes so they could safely land on the frozen and snow covered ground below.
When Grandpa moved in with us a few years after Grandma passed away we got to experience all different facets of his personality in a unique/everyday setting. Grandpa, who we usually only saw during the summer time, was now living with us all the time.
While I was homeschooling he helped me with my math homework. He ate Ramen and Hamburg Meat with Ketchup for lunch every day. However, even though he had his routine he was always open to trying whatever new food my mom and I decided to make for dinner.
To wrap up this post I would like to take a slight turn. While I think that Grandpa would have liked my little acronym, he wouldn’t have wanted me to end there. He didn’t live his life so that he could be memorialized on my blog, he lived to make a difference, to inspire a change in those around him. He was always asking questions, wanting to be involved in problem solving and urging us to be better versions of ourselves.
When I began writing, I wasn’t sure how I would finish this post. Losing a relative is something that each of us feels differently. I wanted to share my experience in a way that was both universal and unique. After thinking about it for a while, this is the conclusion that I have come to.
Above all, love. When we remember our family members who have died, what do we think about? We think about how they would tell us stories, or sing us songs, we think about how much we loved them and how much they meant to us. We remember people the way that we should love the people who are with us each and every day. We encounter people who seem to have an overwhelming amount of annoying qualities, but that doesn’t, in any way, even begin to diminish their value, their dignity, or their worthiness of love.
Love you big, Grandpa, and happy birthday!