Dear Grandpa,

I’ve been sitting on this for a while. I’ve saved and deleted several drafts of a letter not unlike this one, but I just can’t seem to put the words out right. I also never knew when it would be a “good” time to write to you – nearer to our birthdays, holidays, I don’t know. I guess it really doesn’t matter; you’ve been gone for nine years now. I last visited about five years ago, leaving daisies on the spot where we, the living, said our good byes. That warm June day, my cousin playing Taps, the harsh sound of the gun salute.

They were daisies because they had to be. Most people wouldn’t connect a flower with their grandfather, but I would think most people did not have someone like you. I remember the stories you told us about picking daisies in the fields on Staten Island with your sisters and friends from church, before you went off to war. When I see daisies I think of you. Did you know there were tears in my mother’s eyes when I told her I wanted daisies in my wedding bouquet? That I keep little daisy stickers on my things, like water bottles, in my car, on my desk?

I think a lot about what you’d think of me now. When you left, I was a stupid, annoying, awkward 16 year old. I would hope I’d advanced somewhat from that point. You just seemed to be able live your Navy Seabees motto “Can Do”, something I try, often stumbling, to do every day. I want to “Can Do”, too. You weren’t a famous man, you weren’t a rich man, you weren’t an educated man, but people loved you; you were a goodman. And you were good in spite of the hardship you faced: the Depression, poverty, war, working so hard for pennies, burying my grandmother young. You had this personality, a no-holds-barred way of being that drew people in. We had so many people at your funeral we needed a police escort and police to stop traffic for the procession to the cemetery.

People tell me that I’m funny. Sometimes. Alright, well, I try to be funny. You were so funny. You would grab my thigh, hard, and chuckle hard when telling jokes. You would do things like in that picture above, just because you could. The neighborhood you raised your children in had a sizable Scandinavian population, and they had (and still have) a Norwegian day celebration. I don’t know if that’s the sort of thing you were supposed to do for the occasion, but it was the kind of thing you would do. The sense of humor I have I owe in part to you. Keeping my sense of humor, being funny, being fun is keeping you with me.

I just wanted you to know.

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11 Responses to Dear Grandpa,

  1. kelly says:

    I tried to comment earlier – but the tears in my eyes wouldn’t allow it. I am sure he is very proud of you.

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  3. O. Dear says:

    Kelly – Thank you, sweetheart!

  4. blogworm says:

    As soon as I saw the image on the heading plus the somber color, then the addressee of the letter, I knew this was going to be a sad one. But I thought maybe it’s just me because my grandfather passed away six years ago, until I started reading. Somehow, I almost felt like I’m reading somebody’s private letter instead of a blog post. It’s wonderfully touching, which makes me wonder if you keep printed copies of all your posts. This certainly would be something that’s worth keeping a tangible copy of, especially as memories tend to fade over time. Not that you’ll ever truly forget, because you won’t. Or maybe I’m just being overly sentimental.

  5. Scott says:

    That was nice. I lost my mom this past week, and I have a lot to say to her. Blogs are good for that, even though she already knows how I feel.

  6. O. Dear says:

    Blogworm – I do keep my letters on my laptop in a Word file in case anything ever happens to the site, but I don’t print it out or anything. No real reason. I do kinda forget sometimes what I’ve written, especially because a lot of it has been written over the past two years!

    Scott – I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, but I’m glad you enjoyed the letter.

  7. Sock Girl says:

    What a beautiful tribute.

  8. thordora says:

    you done gone made me cry.

    I wish I had a grandpa like that.

  9. Mathyespoetryno says:

    Wow. That was truly moving and a wonderful tribute to a man who sounds much like my grandfather. Thank you so much for sharing that and bringing to mind fond memories. I’m sure your grandpa is proud of you.

  10. Nkya, umenikumbusha mbali kweli. Jina hilo itabidi siku niliandikie kitabu kabisa maana jina tu linaweza kuelezea historia nzima ya Waafrika na mahu Click

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