I wanted to write you one last letter, because this is one of the days it really hurts that you are gone. I found the postcard I was writing you from Iceland when you got sick, and I remembered how funny I thought it would be to see your face when you saw the picture of this tiny, snow encrusted island in the sea. I remember your voice on the phone when I told you I was moving. You said “Whaaaa? Why would you want to go there?” and then we laughed. You didn’t talk like anyone else I’ve ever met, with broad vowels, and great exclamations of “Oooh gaaa!” and “Well golly!”. You are singular, one of a kind, and very much missed.
I wish I had asked you more questions about the world when you were young. 1917 is the time of World War I. You grew up without electricity or running water, and saw the empire state building rise into the sky. You lived through the great depression, saw a second World War, and race to space. Civil rights. The Cuban Missile Crisis. You lived the history I read about.
Your cards were always the first to arrive for every holiday. Snoopy tangled up in colored lights. Snoopy carrying an Easter basket. Snoopy holding a shiny birthday cake. I never had the heart to tell you I’ve never seen Charlie Brown, and didn’t really know why there was a floppy eared dog on all my birthday cards. You sent Snoopy on every card, to every Aunt, Uncle and Cousin, and loved him enough for all of us, so now I must confess; when I see him on a shirt, or in the comics, it makes me think of you. He’s growing on me.
I know you married young, and that you must have been a force of nature. You made 4 children in your image, with strength, red hair, and tempers to match. They have made children with your practicality, your unyielding drive, and your unsurpassed competitiveness. I do not imagine you were an easy man, indeed no family stories lead me to think so, but you were an honest and hardworking one, things the world could always use a bit more of.
I remember you teaching me to play cribbage when I was 5 or 6. You’ll be pleased to hear I bought my own board this summer. You helped me remember what cards made points, when all I wanted to do was move the pegs . You also won every single game. “Well, I can’t just let you win.” You’d say, but well do I remember the first time I ever did. I was twelve years old when I beat you with a pair of threes from the crib, and you told me it was a fluke, plain luck. Then we had to play 3 more rounds just so you could show me you would win. That always makes me laugh so hard, and I’m laughing and crying and I had to take a break from typing because I couldn’t see the screen. When I told Aunt V. I beat you at cribbage, she said “You did? He must have been so mad!”, and we laughed because you really, really were. Ah well, you never let her win either.
Thank you Grandpa, for telling me to spend a little of the money I have on something I’ve always wanted. Thank you for telling me to find a job I’ll love, not one that seems secure. Thank you for poker games, vacations at the cabin, and playing 18 holes of golf in your 90’s. Although, they really shouldn’t have renewed your driver’s license at 92, that makes no sense. Thank you for telling me you would have done some things differently, and that people cannot make you happy; you make you happy.
I follow your advice because it’s good, and you meant the things you said. I’ll tell it to my children, because it stands the test of time. My husband has no say over the fact that we’re naming one of our kids after you, even though you would have said it was silly. It wouldn’t matter if your name was Constantinople, ‘cuz that kid is getting it.
And simply because I never got to say it enough, I love you.
I love you.
I love you.