My grandfather passed away last Saturday, the 22nd. I feel like it hasn’t hit me completely yet. The weekend and the days that followed are all a blur of tears and flowers and too many people touching me. Hugging me. Telling me they’re sorry. People I didn’t even know…
There are so many things to say in his honor and yet I don’t have the words. I simply don’t. I will never hear bagpipes the same way ever again. I’ll never look at an American flag with the same eyes. I fear my heart will break a little every time I see my grandma from this point forward.
We watched him waste away over the past 6 years as he suffered from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We witnessed him, slowly but surely, forget the names (and eventually the faces) of everyone who loved him most. In that way, I’ve been mourning him for a long time. Always fearing that I existed in his memory as someone who never came to see him simply because he couldn’t recognize me. That broke my heart. It still does.
The last coherent thing he ever said to me, long after he had forgotten who I was, was “Where’s your jacket?” Like he knew I was someone to look after, but wasn’t quite sure where I came from. Eventually though the sense all ran out, and the words did too after some time.
I wish that everyone in the world would take a page from his book. Make your word impeccable. Put your family first and protect them fiercely. Be faithful and loving until your very last breath. Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect and help everyone you can, even those who can do nothing for you. Especially those who can do nothing for you. I have never met anyone with as strong a moral compass as his. Not a soul.
To me, he has always been the epitome of what a man should be, and I think it will always stay that way. He was a hero and a gentleman and I can only hope to live my life with the kind of strength, humility, and humor he’d be proud of.
Love you Gramps, and I promise to never drive while angry or upset. To aim for the arrows when I bowl, feed the birds, and to “be happy.” See you when I get glasses.