Me and my grandpa.
Today would have been the 100th birthday of my grandfather.
He passed away almost 21 years ago but I can say that I still think about him almost every day.
This is a man who never went to school beyond the 8th grade, having been pulled away from school to work on the farm and then, himself, worked harder than anyone I probably ever had known.
He was a great grandfather. He wasn’t a 21st century grandfather like you would see today, perhaps, but in his own quiet way, you knew he loved you. He was no nonsense but not in a self-righteous way. He was simple but not dumb in any respect. He was old-world and strict and yet open minded for someone of his generation.
I have been thinking about him a lot today. The world that exists today is greatly different politically, environmentally, socially and financially than the one he left in 1994 and how would he make sense of it – this man who cranked up his first automobile and drove a school bus after retiring from the farm?
While I would not want him to endure his grandson going through a divorce, as I know it would pain him greatly, I would be willing to have him live through that if it meant the opportunity to meet his grandchildren, one of whom he is named for. That would be a real hoot. I can see his wide, dentured smile now laughing at some of the shit that comes out my 14 year old and the rosiness of his cheeks that was prominent around pretty ladies, like my daughter. I picture him reaching for a plastic bag full of Brach candies to offer them to my kids. (It’s funny what you remember.)
It is easy to lose your way on the journey to and during adulthood. I can’t figure it out. I am really struggling right now – but I am ok with it. It is exactly where I need to be and there are lessons that still await me. My grandfather was never affected by what did not concern him. He was a family man through and through – not necessary easy, not necessarily “enlightened”, not necessarily progressive but reliable, true, honest and forthright. These qualities are sorely missing in our ego driven world where it is as much around perception as it is around authenticity. I don’t know that I can live up to that standard myself but am willing to try.
He was not without his struggles, of which I will never really know as there are walls that remain between child and adult either for the sake of the child or the sake of the adult. However, I can tune into those frequencies better now of what they may be as many might be my own today.
100 years old. That would be something.
I remember his funeral on October 6 in New York state. It was the most beautiful, peaceful autumn day. The light from the sun was crisp – the type of yellow hue that is captured in a painting and was accentuated by the calmest winds and it smelled like fresh autumn leaves. I knew that for all his illness, he was at peace.
He came to me a few days later in what was more than a dream. For those of you who have had dreams that were beyond “seeming so real” but yet unexplainable, you will know what I mean.
I never told too many people about it but it was so vivid that I knew it was not just a dream.
I was looking into a mirror that he and my grandmother had in their hallway when I saw my grandfather walk up behind me. But he was not the grandfather who had grown so frail over the past few years. Rather, it was the heavier, mafioso looking guy with salt and pepper mustache and wavy thick hair, shirt with pocket that always held his eyeglasses case, big belt and slacks.
I was incredibly startled to see him, having just buried him.
He was standing behind me and had a wide grin laughing at me as if had just pulled off the best episode of “Punked” that ever existed.
And then, he was gone and I woke up in my bed.
There was a hazy transition from sleep to wake state and I stared at the top of my bureau with my alarm clock.
I knew he was ok.
Happy Birthday Grandpa. Until next time….
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