I really miss my grandfather. He was youthful and spry. He had a sly sense of humor. But best of all, he was never, ever too busy to listen to me. I miss that.
He lived a long life and died in his 100th year, but I wish he were still alive.
My grandfather was my rock. He did odd jobs around my rental house, helped me locate a real estate agent and buy a new house when I moved back from New York City. He was a cheerleader for me when I felt overwhelmed and depressed that it took a long time to find a decent paying job in my field.
He was a not a perfect human being, but he was so good to me. I’m not sure how I would have survived my first year back home without him, and although I always thanked him for his help, I never thanked him for just being there. I wish I could tell him that.
In many ways, my grandfather was a lucky man. He was too young for WWI and too old for WWII. He never smoked and was naturally physically active. Well into his nineties, he was still doing most of his own yard work and house maintenance. He came from long-lived dairy farming stock and I was thirty before it dawned on me that every meal didn’t have to start by throwing half a stick of butter in a pan.
To my grandfather, I was always young. He viewed me as having my whole life in front of me. Now that I’m the “older generation,” I miss that feeling of being someone’s gift to the future.
He gave me advice, of course. Lots of it. Even when I didn’t agree, though, I appreciated that he’d taken the time to think about my problems. I miss getting his perspective on my life.
We talked on the phone every day. Often for only a few minutes, but I wanted to check in with him, and he wanted to check up on me. I miss that.
When I was pregnant with my son, I remember my grandfather prodding the steaks and insisting that I needed to be fed the best parts because I was having a baby. I miss feeling cherished and cared for like that.
We, my husband, son and I, had dinner every week with my grandfather. It was a family tradition that my own parents had chafed at, but I loved it. It was like a thread continuing from my childhood right into middle age. We had either steak or walleye pike, with baked potatoes and peas. I always made a pie, apple usually, because that was my grandfather’s favorite. I miss that family ritual.
And I know my grandfather loved it too. When I arrived, he’d have the potatoes washed, poked, and sitting on the counter ready to go in the oven. The table was always set, including candles. My grandfather enjoyed talking business and drinking scotch with my husband while I bustled around in his kitchen. I suspect he even liked the ritual of putting breakables out of reach of my toddler son and then grumbling about how long it took to “put things right” when we left.
Papa, I miss you.