Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Letter to My Granddad

Happy Birthday Granddad! It’s an honor to say that, especially after a vigorous 92 years you have lived on this earth. I don’t know if you’ll remember that it is your birthday today, but that’s ok because I forgot mom’s birthday this year. So I guess we’re even.

In the 25 years that I’ve known you, I couldn’t ask for a better role model. You’ve been married for 66 years now, just in case you forgot. Every time I’m around you, you speak of grandmother in such a loving way. You’ll still have that shine in your eye when you mention your wife like it was the first time you feel in love. “That sure is a pretty girl over there,” you’ll say as you watch grandmother working hard in the kitchen or just sitting in her favorite chair. You have a dedication that I admire, not only to your wife, but also to living.

You were a Sunday School teacher for 20 plus years and I know those people revered you and respected your wisdom and humor. I could tell. Plus you were an amazing storyteller. I think I will go to my grave never knowing what happened to your partially cut off finger. And in a way that’s the way I want it to be. You told us stories of meeting your future wife, working at Nabisco, fishing, playing golf, hitchhiking, college, living in England, visiting almost every continent and all 50 states, and the war. Even if we had heard the stories before you could still craft them in a way to paint a beautiful landscape of your life; the humor, the reality, the simplicity of it all made you feel warm as if sitting besides a fire during a soft December evening.

You had a patient peace about you, one that I recognized at an early age as we would sit on the dock and cast our lures into the calm waters hoping to catch “the big one.” You were a gracious man, always caring for others and helping those that needed it. I remember when I didn’t have a job for a summer and you helped me get a mowing business going at the lake. You would even help me weed eat at times even in the blazing summer heat.

As I write this letter I realized I have described you in the past tense. Forgive me. You are still a patient man. You are still a great storyteller. You are still a devoted husband. You are still someone whom people revere and respect. You are still a man who is full of wisdom and humor. I apologize for that. I guess I know that you are not the same man you were, at least in the sense of your memory. And that makes me feel heavy. I cried the other night knowing that you didn’t remember your anniversary and knowing that you might not remember your birthday. I wanted to blame someone or something but it was to no avail. I remember seeing my other granddad (Granddaddy C) in the retirement home and him not being able to remember who I was. It broke my heart. It still does. Not that he couldn’t remember my name, but that the fullness of life that was in him and is in you has somewhat slipped through our weakening clutches. We want to preserve people we know and love, framing them in a picture that will never fade or be etched out of our memories. I guess it’s the fear of facing our own humanity. Maybe that is why I cried in Jennifer’s arms for so long that night. I believe that death is not the end of the story. I really do. But I just want to live in the memory of what used for a little while longer. I love you granddad.