I have this very vivid memory of visiting my Grandfather’s grave. I must have been young, I’d say 5 or 6, and I had no concept of what was really happening.
What I remember is my grandmother and mother both crying while I stood on the grave, wondering if I could feel his body if I concentrated. I couldn’t understand the tears or the concept of decomposition but I was desperate to know this man that would bring two of the strongest women I knew to tears.
My Grandpa Jack died before I was born.
Growing up I heard some stories from my mom and grandma, more than anything I heard about his demeanor. Grandpa Jack was kind, even, and no one could help but love him. He was a mechanic, a family man, and an amazing husband and father.
I always felt close to this mysterious plaid-clad stranger friend, I’ve oft spoken to him in graveyards and moments of quiet. He’s more than once been the receiver of my frustration or the moderator of hurt and confusion. Though I’ve never heard his voice or his laugh, he’s been around.
Recently, Boyfriend and I visited my grandmother and I mentioned how little I knew of my late grandfather. My grandmother’s reaction was flawless. Being a writer (and seriously amazing) she scanned and sent along photos, letters, anything that would give me some insight.
In 1982 he died, suddenly and too young. His life was claimed by bacterial endocarditis despite the best efforts of Dr. Isch, who not only performed his surgery but kept in contact with my grandmother by mail after Jack’s death.
As Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saint’s Day) came around this year, I found myself thinking more and more about the event of my grandfather’s death, the man I’d missed entirely and the people I’ve met through him.
I know my grandmother as a perviously mentioned bada** because in the wake of her husband’s death, she started traveling and writing and traveling and writing and adventuring and creating a world for me where a woman alone could do anything she needed to be happy.
I know my mother as a strong and loving woman because she had so many good years with this kind father. She was shaped by him, she became like him, and when he was gone she grew in strength as well.
I know my Grandpa Jack through the love he shared during his life. Through the memory of his epic thoughtfulness. Through the love he inspired. I can only hope that I’ll be remembered one day the same way.