To my Grandpa

A Letter To My Lolo, The Day After You Left I Had To Continue Living

I wish you could see me now Lolo.

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The hardest part about writing this is knowing you won't be able to read this, but it needs to be said.

Lolo, you left and the world didn't stop moving. No one noticed how quiet I became and no one stopped when I decided to go home early that day. The Earth continued to spin and I didn't even shed a tear until a week after.

You left and I didn't know how much I would miss you until I started inviting people to my graduation and realized you would make it. I didn't know how sad I was until someone's grandma had made them dinner and I thought about how your last meal was confided in hospital walls, surrounded by my family in the Philippines. I didn't know how lucky I was until my mom told me you were always calling me doctor even before I applied to medical school.

Lolo, you left before you saw how much I had grown. You left before you saw Miguel getting accepted into Elon's DPT. You left before my mom could say goodbye for the last time, so she tries to tell you every night before she sleeps how much she misses you.

A week after you left, I sat in my living room surrounded by my best friend and boyfriend. I couldn't stop crying for the entire runtime of "Meet the Robinsons". In all honesty, not even Disney could save my broken heart. It was the movie I desperately needed to watch because its motto was what I needed to hear: Keep moving forward.

I couldn't wallow in your absence. You'd hate that I did anyway. Instead, I started moving with the world.

First, I stopped crying. Crying wasn't what we needed to celebrate the life you taught us to live. Instead, I applied myself. I told myself if I wasn't doing what I loved or was working towards my goals every day, I was wasting the future you'd been telling people about since I was little.

I decided this because it keeps you alive in our hearts. You would be felt and seen through our successes and accomplishments. Sure, you wouldn't be at my graduation this December, but your impact would be felt as I walk across that stage to receive my diploma. You wouldn't see me get married and have kids, but we would be telling stories of your legacy until I was as old as you were Lolo.

Goodbye is my least favorite word. It could be for a moment or for forever, but we never really know until we have to say it. I've already had to say goodbye to a Lolo once before and I'm not ready to say it now. This time, I would save my goodbye. I wasn't going to part with your memory yet, but pass it on. You taught me to enjoy life, so I fully intend to Lolo.

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When You Give A Girl A Papa

She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.
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When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.

She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.

Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.

Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.

Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.

Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.

Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.

He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.

Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.

At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.

Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Goddard

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The Lines Beside My Grandma's Eyes

Wrinkles are our body's diary of the adventures we have had.

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The photo book opens. Happy memories gush out, overflowing onto the table, they catch my eye and touch my heart. I know very well, the woman that smiles back at me from page five. I knew her when she stood five feet 6 inches tall beside me, not four by five inches as she is now, preserved in this album of captured love. Yes, I knew her when her curves were 3D, when her sound, her scent, her smile were a reality before me.

A beauty through and through, from ages zero till 92. She blessed the earth she walked on -blades of grass bowed down before she even took a step on them. The wind blew to embrace her. To describe her as beautiful would not be enough. I'm convinced her heart was so full of loveliness that it overflowed onto her surface. Even within these pages, she still catches many eyes.

Mine are drawn to her lines. My grandma's face spelled love in the lines that she etched there. Between her eyebrows, she held her worries, above them sat her sass. Around her mouth, she forged ridges from a lifetime of laughter and millions of kisses. But the lines that I'm most interested in are those beside her eyes. There, her soul took up the pencil.

These lines are tender, like the gaze with which her honey eyes held the world. They are riverbeds for tears of joy. They are the tails of shooting stars, evidence of her eyes' twinkle, her omnipresent obstinance to dream. They trace the strong cheekbones where my sleepy head used to plant a goodnight kiss and whisper, "I love you more." They zig-zag like her heartbeat, electrified whenever she caught a wink from her Don. They are the illustration of 92 years of wisdom.

I see my whole childhood, my hopes for who I'll someday be, and my strong family ties in those lines beside her eyes.

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