This man. This man is my Grandfather. I called him Granddad. He’s my hero. He lives in Heaven. This makes me joyful but also sorrowful. I miss him. A lot. When I see pictures of him in my head they are happy memories. Funny ones. They make me laugh. They make me cry. I miss him. I said that, I know. It’s a painful, aching truth that resides deep inside my chest that makes my air escape and I struggle to catch my breath.
He lived a full life. He had 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Full. Blessed. Abundant life. I had the privilege of being his grandchild (only granddaughter even!) and I was like a daughter, really. My biological father forfeited his parental rights to me. Granddad filled that obvious gap that was left. I never knew the difference.
I used to invite myself over for dinner to his house. I was 6 or 8. Young. Even at such a young, tender age I wanted to be around him. All. The. Time. My first sentence I ever said was to him. Lap, book, read.
I lived with him and my grandmother for a short period of time when I was older. My favorite memories were mornings with them on the patio, drinking coffee and reading the paper. I always thought that is what I would do with my future husband when I got married. Too bad neither of us can slither out of bed early enough to do it. We also would eat out every Thursday night after they would play golf. It was like our little family traditions. He would sometimes order an alcoholic beverage for me and tell the waiter I was his daughter and he was driving me home. Which he was. My father. And he drove me home.
The day I married my husband he was there. He walked me down the aisle. I could tell he was nervous. So was I. I thought my heart was going to explode. Having him by my side brought me comfort. Peace. I still remember how good he smelled. We also danced that night. He stepped on my toes. He wrecked my pedicure. I didn’t care. I loved him. I still love him. I miss him.
Shortly after I got married he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. That hurt. Really hurt. He went through lots of treatment. Chemo. Stem cell transplant. He didn’t look the same after. He looked thinner. Paler. I loved him even more. He was fighting. He fought hard. Long. And kept fighting. He went into remission and I praised the Lord.
My husband would tell me, “You should call you Grandfather!” “You should go see him.” It made me mad. Angry. It meant that acknowledging that I needed to see him, talk to him, meant the end was nearing and I couldn’t accept that. I wouldn’t. I am stubborn. I get that from my Granddad.
This last Spring, early Summer, he started to get ill. I went to see him more. Visited. Called a few times. I stayed in his room one night while he was in the hospital. I wrote him a love note, so when he came home he could read it. He never came home.
You see the funny thing about regret is, it’s usually too late when you realize you have it. The words that weren’t said. The hugs that weren’t given. The love that was still left to share. It’s too late.
The day of his funeral came. It sucked. If, we are being honest. The ONLY person I wanted to hug that day was him. I hugged so many people. I was empty. I ‘held it together’ for the most part. Pride has a way of doing that. I was trying to be strong in front of my kids. Silly.
I know he’s in heaven. That’s a whole ‘nother story for another day. Trust me. He’s there. Shooting golf with other angels. I miss him. But that’s ok. My heart has a hole in it, where he used to live.
Regret. It’s real. It’s ugly. It’s also a reminder. Take nothing for granted. Never leave things unsaid. Always hug them. Always. Hug them tighter even. Just in case it’s the last one. Remember the way they smell. The way they sound. The advice they shared. Remember.