A Letter To The Grandfather That I Miss Tremendously

A Letter To The Grandfather That I Miss Tremendously

I hope you are doing well in Heaven.
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Dear Grandpa,

It's been a little over half a year since you have passed, and there are a few things I want to say.

I'm sorry.

The last time I saw you, I was not at my best. I was crying and getting sick in the bathroom. I couldn't bring myself to accept the fact that this was going to be the last time I saw you. I thought that maybe if I didn't give you a hug good-bye, that you wouldn't leave. I gave you a hug at the end of the afternoon and left, holding back tears. I knew it wouldn't be the last time I would see you, but it would be the last time I could hold a conversation with you, or hug you, or see your lively eyes.

I regret not going over to your house on my own more. My excuse was that I was young and could not go to your favorite place with you: Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I couldn't drink gin martinis with you, but I could play card games with you.

When I was younger, I would sit at your feet and play solitaire with you. We would talk and laugh. I also remember doing a report on you when I was still in middle school; it was about your time serving in the Army. They presented that book at your funeral for people to read while we waited for mass.

I held it together so well at the funeral until I saw the military memorial video, that's when I lost it. You were such a brave man and an amazing role model. Your wife loved you so much, that's why you were married over 65 years. You have amazing children and grandchildren as well.

The grandchildren live all over the United States now. Some are still in school, others have their own businesses, or are pursing different hobbies. But, we were all there together to say our final good-byes.

Your funeral truly was amazing. You had the American flag laid by your feet, and a bottle of gin and a cigar at your head. We sang "Home on the Range" for you, as the whole church fought back tears. Once the ceremony was over, we all went outside in the brisk February air. Taps was played and the twenty-one gun salute went off over our heads.

We had met at the veterans cemetery one last time. Your ashes were placed right next to Grandma's. You two must have really loved each other, you passed away on the same date, February 25th, just five years apart. I can only hope and pray to have a love like that.

Months later, we were able to visit your site at the cemetery and see the new plaque they had made for you and Grandma, it was beautiful.

I miss you, Grandpa, and I've never missed any passed family member like this. I hope you are doing well up in heaven. Save me a spot for when it's my time. You're going to have to save a lot of spots, actually, considering we have a very big family.

It's not the same without you. The family isn't the same, but that's okay. We're doing well, down here. I'm still in school and got a new job. I'm moving home once I graduate, so I'll be closer to you and be able to visit you. I hope you're doing well. I miss you, and I'm sorry.

Disclaimer: This is not relatable to every Grandfather out there, but I had some words I wanted to get off my chest. My Grandfather was such a big part of my life and I miss him tremendously. Give your Grandparents more time while they are still here; you don't want to have any regrets once they are gone.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Biro

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4 Reasons Why Dads Threatening Their Daughters' Boyfriends Aren't Funny

No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.
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This week, former NFL player Jay Feely caught Twitter's attention by posting a picture with his daughter and her prom date and a handgun.

While the comedic undertones of the photo are obvious, Twitter had a lot to say about the picture and most people weren't happy.

He has since issued a statement of clarification after the tweet went viral, acknowledging that gun safety is an important issue and clarifying that he was in fact joking. Unfortunately, though, the damage had already been done.

Feely is far from the only dad who's ever made this joke. It's a largely prevalent theme specifically among gun owners and in country music. Check out the song "Cleaning This Gun" for another example. It's catchy, I have to admit, I just listened to it again voluntarily the other day even though I don't agree with the central message.

But what's really the matter with this picture? After all, it's just dads being dads, right? Wrong. The political, historical, and gender-specific rhetoric behind the idea of dads protecting their daughters by threatening their boyfriends have all combined to create a lot of things wrong with this picture. Here are 4 of them.

1. Gun violence is no laughing matter

This theme has come up over and over and over again this year but it's one that continues to be relevant and timely. Gun violence is a very real issue, with thousands of deaths, dozens of mass shootings, and deep political biases, making it far from a joke. While there is a major difference between the handgun in Feely's picture and the assault weapons that have been at the center of recent mass shootings, threatening to shoot someone, particularly an unarmed teenager, is just poor humor.

2. Parents do not get a say in their daughters' sexual choices

From chastity rallies at churches to purity balls entrusting their sexual purity to their dads to presenting "virginity certificates" to dads at weddings (hint, you can't medically prove someone's a virgin), parents' obsession with their daughters' sexual behaviors, not their sons', mind you, just their daughters, is creepy, intrusive, and disgusting.

Decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity, at any point from high school to marriage and on to the rest of their lives, is up to the two people involved, not the parents, the church, the government, or any outside parties. By reinforcing the idea that the parent is in control of these decisions that their kids are supposed to make for themselves, parents like these are perpetuating archaic ideals, destroying the trust their children have in them, and setting them up for destructive sexual behavior down the line.

3. There is an extremely obvious (and dangerous) sexual double standard between boys and girls

While young women are told to guard their purity and that engaging in sexual activity makes them less worthwhile people, boys are encouraged to use sexual conquests to assert their dominance and their behaviors are not focused on nearly as much by parents, religious organizations, or sexual education programs.

If women are taught to remain virginal until marriage and homosexuality is frowned down upon, who exactly are these boys supposed to be having sexual conquests with? Beats me.

4. Sexual repression and rape culture go hand-in-hand

These parents criticize their daughters for participating in safe, monogamous sexual relationships but do not give the same attention and threats to people that threaten their wellbeing. By teaching your daughter that she can't trust you, you're setting her up for trouble down the line.

While this entire situation could be passed off as a harmless joke that got a little out of hand, it's obvious that the problems run deep and can have a lasting effect, especially on the girl at the center of the "joke." Bottom line, trust your kids. Believe that they have the self-respect and the critical thinking skills to make healthy relationship decisions and support them in making them. No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.

Cover Image Credit: Jay Feely: Twitter

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My First Year With An Angel

I lost my best friend, but she is never truly gone.
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One year ago today, I held a hand for one last time. It was that same hand that had taken care of me, in many ways, for the first 18 years of my life.

That day my life changed exponentially. My grandmother, an angel on the ground, had become my angel in the sky.

It was not as though I had never lost someone in my life. However, there’s something incredibly different about losing your best friend.

I spent most of my childhood with my grandma and she soon became more than just a grandma. She was my main confidant, a mentor, and a friend.

Some of my most profound memories from childhood were sitting on the swing in her backyard watching birds on her porch and putting together puzzles at her house. Her home was essentially my second home.

So, naturally, when she could no longer take care of me, we switched roles. I became her caretaker. I took care of the household responsibilities that she could no longer tackle. I coerced her into family gatherings and took care of getting her plate or helping her maneuver throughout crowds.

Although it hurt to see her missing out on the things she once loved from bowling to sewing, I came to her house every day determined to make her smile. I missed our outings to the bowling alley or the days she would sit with me and try her hardest to teach me how to crochet (even though the skills do not transfer easily from right-handed teacher to left-handed learner) but I knew it was not her fault.

Even when she moved to a nursing home, I did my best to maintain a happy lifestyle for her. When I visited, I played the flute or read my articles from the school newspaper to her. The hardest part for me was probably watching her in her last six months. While she still remembered me, she grew confused and rarely had a solid idea of what was going on around her.

Yet, it was still a jarring surprise the day she entered the hospital. Up until that point, I was extremely confident that she would get better and return to her normal self. At the beginning of the day, even the doctors believed she would get better. But, regardless of what we had all thought, that day was our last day together.

Leading up to college, I was worried how much my grandma would miss me when I couldn’t visit enough. But, as it turns out, I spent the last year missing her for an entirely different reason.

In some ways, it’s as if my grandma never left. I vividly remember the first race I ran after her death. It was my last 3200-meter race on my high school track team. I had not been doing as well in my senior season and I did not expect much out of the race. Even though I did not get a PR or even meet my goal for that day, it was still one of my favorite races.

The sun was dipping in and out of the clouds that day. My friends decided to run alongside me for this last race since the other team did not put any of their runners in the race. As sad as I was that it was my last race, I was running in my fifth or sixth lap and I looked up just as the sun began to creep out from behind the clouds.

In that moment, as I ran beside one of my best friends and accepted the end of my high school track career. I felt an extreme happiness. It was as though my grandma was there too, cheering me on from the sidelines as if she was just any other spectator.

Since that day, I have felt her with me on multiple occasions. I think about her on days that are especially tough, thinking about what she would say if I had sat down next to her on that old swing in her backyard and asked her what I should do. I think about her on especially wonderful days, silently thanking her as if she had somehow organized the events of the day to go just right.

Last month, I was driving my car back to college from my hometown for the first time. There were times where I got a little off track or scared that I would not make it the entire way to college and I felt like she had guided me.

At one point, I was in the wrong lane as I was trying to get back on the highway. I ended up taking a slight detour on to roads that were not clearly marked at all. It took me about ten minutes to get back on to the highway and the whole time I was silently hoping that I was driving in the right lane and one of the trucks milling about would not stray off their path and hit me. The second I got back on the highway, I immediately thanked my grandma.

It was a beautiful night and the stars had just come out not too long before. I suddenly felt extremely connected to her as if she was sitting in the passenger seat and it had been her, not my GPS that had guided me back to the highway. She felt so close that I imagined I could reach my hand out to the passenger seat and she would take hold of it, reassuring me that everything was fine and once again I was worrying for no reason at all.

I have come to realize that even though she has been gone for a year now, that she will always be around in some way or another. When I was younger, she had always told me there were guiding angels that were there to help. Of course, at the time she was also telling me she was one of the Easter Bunny’s ducklings that would help get the Easter baskets ready or one of Santa’s elves working with him up at the North Pole.

I believe her now more than ever. It may have been my first year without her but it was also my first year with an angel by my side.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley Stalnecker

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