I was sitting in the car on the way home from my grandfather's service when I heard the lyrics of Tim McGraw's "Humble and Kind" come out of the radio for the first time. We sat in somber silence as we listened to the words that poured out of the speakers, both just staring out the window. I looked over at my mom after the duration of the song to see tears falling down her cheeks. I did not have to ask her what was wrong because I knew. Every single rhyme, word, lyric symbolized what my grandpa stood for. It was as if Tim McGraw captured his entire 93 years in one song and I knew in that moment I would never forget the tune.
My grandfather always showed me that love can come in so many different forms. When I was seven-years-old we went to visit my grandparents in Florida for spring break. We all got dressed up in our best Easter brunch attire and went to the dining room in their retirement community. During the brunch, there was a raffle for a gigantic, soft Easter bunny. At that time, I had never seen a bigger stuffed animal and I wanted it more than anything. I ran up with surprise and excitement when I heard them call my number over the microphone. I was overjoyed as I grabbed ahold of the bigger-than-me bunny and I didn't let it leave my side for the rest of the trip. I didn’t find out until one month after my grandfather's passing that he paid the man to let me win the bunny.
For five months my grandfather came to stay with us. Between constant trips to the VA or countless dentist appointments for his new dentures, he and I grew to become even closer than before. He was the one to tell me I looked pretty when I came downstairs in a t-shirt and my hair was a mess, he was the one to tell me that boys were silly after I went through my first break up, but most importantly he was the one who I shared laughter and stories with over small chocolate milkshakes from Chick-Fil-A.
When Grandpa first became sick it all happened so quickly. The constant doctors and medications. The tests and the prognosis. The tears and realizations.
Sometimes the smallest of things are the ones that make the biggest impact in your life. For me, that moment came in the form of a smile. I had gone after school to visit Grandpa in the hospital that day. My mom had told me that he had been having a bad day and that I should sit, pray, and hold his hand for awhile. Grandpa could no longer form any clear or concise words and it was getting worse and worse by the day. When it came time for me to leave in order to make my SAT class, I got up to give my Grandpa a kiss on the cheek and tell him that I loved him. It was then that I saw the smallest and most lopsided smile, but to me, it was also the best smile I had ever received. That was the last smile I ever got from Grandpa and also the last smile he was able to give.
My grandfather passed away on March 26th, 2015 at 3 pm. That day I knew I would no longer hear the stories from his childhood, I would no longer hear the compliments over my messy bun, I knew I wouldn’t have him there the next time I needed reassurance over the stupidity of boys, and I also knew I would no longer have those afternoons filled with milkshakes and stories.I cannot help but smile when I look at that oversized stuffed
bunny or when I think about how his cell phone would always ring in the middle of mass. My grandpa was a very well off, distinguished man but he never took anything for granted. So when that song came on the radio and I heard the lyrics, “Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you”, I could not help but cry. I cried for the loss of his laughter, I cried for the loss of my best friend. The song “Humble and Kind” symbolizes everything my grandfather was, and everything he encouraged me to be. Because I knew and had the example of a man such as Joseph Lodge, I hope to always stay Humble & Kind.