What Was He Like?

My grandfather was generous. He gave to people who needed things. His money, his time. Sometimes, he gave too much to people who didn’t need it. Sometimes, not enough to those who did.

My grandfather was selfish. But everyone is, in their own way. He gave so much to some but ran out of time for others. He came around often, and then he didn’t. But he always came back.

My grandfather was unhealthy. Heart problems, a pacemaker, melanoma. He was in and out of hospitals. He told us stories about how he had been pronounced dead twice already, how he heard the doctors talking about him in the past tense. Maybe they were just stories, but maybe they weren’t.

My grandfather was mysterious. He traveled the world throughout his life. For his country, for his softball team, for himself. He had relationships with people I’ll never meet and people I’ll never hear about. He did things I’ll never understand, for reasons I’ll never have to.

My grandfather was supportive. He never missed my baseball games. He never missed my brother’s basketball games. He never missed an opportunity to tell us to follow our dreams.

My grandfather was an instigator. He dared me to ask out a Chili’s waitress, and I did. The relationship may have been short-lived, but it was because of him that I felt alive.

My grandfather was fun. He played, he joked, he cooked. He watched Monk and Psych with us. He slept over and made omelets in the morning.

My grandfather was hip. He had a Facebook and knew everything there was to know about sports. He subscribed to ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated, and he always found a way to give my brother and me the swimsuit issue without my mom knowing.

My grandfather was wise. He could talk about sports, or he could talk about anything else. It seemed as if he valued breadth more than depth. Perhaps this is why most of his conversations were shallow. Perhaps this is why many of his relationships were as well.

My grandfather was understanding. He read the things I wrote, and talked to me about the things I didn’t. These conversations were never in-depth either, but they never had to be.

My grandfather was invincible. He looked his age, but he never acted it. He was going to live forever.

Don't worry, Gramps. I'll carry on the family legacy.

Don’t worry, Gramps. I’ll carry on the family legacy.

My grandfather was dizzy one day, and when he tried to sit down, he missed the couch.

My grandfather was unlucky. His skin cancer had spread to his brain. The doctor told my dad on the phone that my grandfather had two or three months to live.

My grandfather was lucky. He was surrounded by people who loved him and cared about him. And although I may not know many of the people whose lives he touched, I do know we have that in common.

My grandfather made mistakes. He abandoned people who needed him, he alienated people who loved him, but he taught me one important thing. And that’s not to have any regrets.

If I had to sum my grandfather up in one word, I’m not sure exactly what word would describe him. I guess I’d say he was human.

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5 thoughts on “What Was He Like?

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