My maternal grandfather passed away a handful of years ago. He never pronounced my name correctly. I’m sure he loved me in the best way he could, but hearing my name mispronounced always felt like fingernails on a chalkboard. No. More accurately, a searing feeling of insignificance.
My paternal grandfather passed away when I was very young. When I entered the room all his hard edges would melt away and he would light up. I remember that he would spend hours just watching me play at his feet. I was the apple of his eye. These memories are not my own memories of him since I was too young. The memories are a gift from my mother. I remember stories she’d tell about him and how much he loved me. I cherish this knowledge, but it’s always left me a bit wanting. I wish so much that I could have had more. Memories of how he sounded, smelled, felt. Real memories.
This morning I watched as my teenager lumbered into the kitchen, with sleep in his eyes and his hair sticking out in all directions, he made his way over to Grandpa, put his lanky arms around him, squeezed, and Grandpa lit up like a thousand-watt light bulb. A few minutes later, a sleepy eight year-old made her way over to Grandpa and crawled up on his lap. He told her he loved her so much, and that he was so glad she was right there, and that she was beautiful. She rested there for a while, inhaled his wonderful Grandpa scent, smiled, stretched, and then got up and got her breakfast.
As I watched, I realized how blessed my children are to have their Grandpa right here, where they can hear his rumbling laugh, and feel his deep love. I realize that I am enjoying first-hand what a grandfather’s love feels like. I’m living vicariously.