To The Grandpa Who 'Never Met A Stranger,' A Tribute

To The Grandpa Who 'Never Met A Stranger,' A Tribute

Until we meet again, my beautiful guardian angel.
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December 3, 2017, Donald Charles Anderson, veteran, son, brother, father, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, went to heaven after battling lung cancer off and on for the past 10 years. We all knew that the time would be soon, but nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one. Absolutely nothing.

I wish I could have made it to the hospital to see him before he passed away, and I wish I could have gathered the strength at the viewing to have shared a memory with the crowd.

He was a family man. He loved his wife, 6 children, 17 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. He never failed to instill it within each and every one of us that family comes first. Back when my mom, aunt, and four uncles were kids, he worked two jobs and came home afterward to coach Little League, attend wrestling matches, football games, etc.; You name it, he was there. I can confidently speak for my family and say that he was the full package. He was loving, devoted, hardworking, spirited, humorous, and smart! I cannot stress enough how intelligent he was. His mind was sharp up until his very last moments.

My grandfather took me as his own daughter when my father left me. He helped raise me, and will forever hold a special place in my heart. He was the type of man that would do anything he could to help. The love he exhibited for who he would always refer to as “His Bride” was pure and real. He didn’t let a day go by without saying “I love you” to her. He was always thinking about everyone else, even when he was sick in the hospital. I can only hope that someday I will raise the kind of family that he has, because this family is one of a kind, just like he was. His humor, his amazing stories about traveling, his advice, and his support and encouragement will never be forgotten. The memories I have shared with him are indeed special in so many ways.

I remember when I was about 6 or 7 years old I would always sing at the top of the staircase, and he would call me a star even though I couldn’t sing for the life of me.

Before I left for school every day he would stuff newspapers in my backpack so when I opened it to take out my lunch they would all fall out.

When I was a little girl and I would go with him to the store, he would always let me pick out a pack of gum.

He would always freak me out by popping out his dentures when I least expected it.

He did his crossword puzzles every day with a pencil that had been sharpened way too many times.

I will always remember him as the man sipping black coffee out of his train mug who wore the faded blue jeans with his flannel, suspenders and L.L. Bean slippers.

On his 86th birthday, which was just last month, I said to him, “Wow, the big 86 this year Pop!” and he said, “Yeah, I might be old in age but I’m young at heart.”

He was seriously the best. Every time I called home from college and he answered, he would always ask if everything was alright. He cared so much and I am forever thankful for a grandfather who loved me the way he did. What I would do to have one last conversation with him. I’ll always be your little girl.

Until we meet again, my beautiful guardian angel.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Shehata

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15 Things You Realize As Your Baby Brother Grows Up

No matter how old he gets, he will always be your baby brother.
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Despite the fistfights and days of locking each other out of the house, a little brother is one of the biggest blessings you can receive. Most sisters can agree that they probably bossed their brothers around a lot when they were younger (and probably still do). Most sisters have also most likely forced their brothers to participate in many games that were only enjoyable for one party (baby dolls, house, dress up, etc.)

As a little brother grows up, you start to realize a lot of things as they become your lifelong best friend. Here are 15 of them:

1. He will outgrow you

Even though you were once able to beat him in a wrestling match, and have a fair game of tag, as you get older, he begins to pass you up in size and you realize it probably isn't in your best interest to pick a fight.

2. Teenage boy sass is a real thing

So many times, girls get a bad rep for the teenage phase, but let me tell you, teenage boys have just as much sass if not more than the average hormonal girl. But you also realize that you will get through it, and he is still your sweet brother somewhere deep, deep down.

3. He will go through a phase when he is too cool for you

Your whole life you have been used to your little brother looking up to you and wanting to be just like you and do all the things you do. This probably really annoyed you at some point too and I know I found the words "stop copying me" coming out of my mouth a lot. Don't wish it away, enjoy these times because there hits a point where he will want to do their own thing for a while.

4. He will begin to form his own opinions, and he is actually really smart

He still looks up to you, but there comes a time when he actually starts to contradict and challenge your opinions, and his arguments are surprisingly really good. You learn a lot from your little brother, so start listening to what they have to say sometimes.

5. No girl will ever be good enough for him

When he brings a girl home, you can't help but judge everything about her (no pressure) because to you, no girl will match up to his awesomeness. You know you are annoying, over-controlling, and overly judgmental, but you can't help it, he is your baby brother after all.

6. Regardless of how old or big he gets, if anyone messes with him, you will "beat them up"

I am not a fighter, but somehow anytime someone messes with my little brother, I get the ego of Muhammed Ali and believe that I can beat anyone up. Even now that he has outgrown me by about six inches and 50 pounds and is definitely a lot stronger than me, I still threaten to protect him because for some reason I feel like I can defend him better than he can himself. If anyone shoves him on the soccer field or says something mean to him at school, all of the sudden the big sister is the most intimidating and feisty little 5'4" girl there is out there.

7. He has your back

The once quiet and shy boy you outspoke as a child is not afraid to stand up for you. Even if he knows you're wrong, he is just as protective of you as you are of him and he will always be there for you whether you need a shoulder to cry on, you've had a fight with your friends and need someone to talk to, or a guy blows you off and you just need dairy queen and a movie night.

8. People will think he is your boyfriend and vice versa

As little kids, you were obviously the big sister, but now that he has outgrown you, hit puberty and matured, people mistake him as your boyfriend all the time. When you go to dinner and get the "you are such a cute couple" comment, you can't help but laugh.

9. All of his academic success is obviously all thanks to you

All the days you forced him to play "school" with you and tried to teach him everything you knew paid off because he actually knows what he is doing now. You're welcome.

10. Every year he turns another year older, you freak out because you remember how old you felt when you were his age, and it is not possible for him to be that old

No, no, no. He is little. He cannot drive just because he is 16. That is scary. [Only you were mature enough and ready to drive at 16.] There is no way that he is already 18 and can vote. You will never get used to the fact that he is growing up at the same pace as you are.

11. He is the one person who defies your theory that you are never wrong

He always has your best interests in mind, so if he disapproves of a guy, or questions a choice you are making, he is most likely right, just listen to him. Seriously, it will save you time in the future.

12. You will always worry about him

Yes, you are annoying and you know he can handle himself, but the thought of him ever getting hurt kills you. Every time he goes out or takes a risk, you worry about him. However, you also know and trust that he is smart and makes good choices, and if he ever doesn't, you will always be here to save the day, duh!

13. You are his biggest fan

And you are absolutely obnoxious at sporting games and other events. You are the first person to yell at the referee when he gets fouled and the loudest person screaming when he scores a goal. You also find yourself bragging about him to your friends because you are just so proud, and you taught him everything he knows (duh again).

14. He is your best friend

You can tell him anything and he can tell you anything. You guys have a pact and he won't tell your secrets. He's your person, and you have come to find out that he actually gives great advice when you give him the chance to talk.

15. No matter how old he gets, he will always be your baby brother

No matter how old my brother gets, we still say "I love you" every night and he will always be my little baby brother who I watch over and protect, always. I know I have a lifelong best friend who I can lean on during hard times, and celebrate with when the times are good. Bless up.

Special shoutout to my baby brother, Luke, for teaching me so much about myself and always being there for me.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To One Of The Greatest Men I Have Ever Known, My Grandpa

Thank you to the man who taught me laughter, confidence, and so much more.

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Dear Papa,

My favorite memory of you is one that I can barely remember because I was so young. But I remember riding on your four-wheeler, holding on to the gas cap as hard as possible, and screaming every time I saw the speedometer go over 25mph. I remember just hearing your sweet laugh and slowing down just to speed it up again so I would keep screaming. You fueled my love for the mountains and the outdoors. I thank you for this.

I had my first love, who broke my heart into a million different pieces. I was so hurt, devastated and my self-esteem broke along with it. We were walking on the way back from your shop, under the canopy of grapes you planted. You asked me how I was doing. I lied I was doing fine. And said that I know I deserve better than a boy who cheats on me with my best friend. You looked into my eyes like you always did.

I stared back into your beautiful blue eyes and you told me that you never really thought he was good enough for me, and you said you did not like him very much because I deserved the world and he never gave me that. You also told me something I will never forget. You said, "ordinary men cannot handle extraordinary women and you are an extraordinary woman." You told me to never forget this. You raised my confidence and it meant so much to me. That heartbreak wasn't the last, but I always try to remember those words and it helps me get through it. I thank you for this.

I remember when you offered to let me learn how to drive in your truck. I hope you knew how much of an honor that was to me. I knew how much you loved your cars because you helped fuel my love for cars. We had to go to Walmart. And we were driving on the highway for quite some time when I looked over and realized you were sound asleep. We had driven forty minutes out of the way. You just laughed and instructed me on how to get to Walmart. You complimented me on how calm and relaxing I drove. You gave me the confidence to start driving, although back then I hated it. I thank you for this.

One day we were sitting, eating breakfast around that giant table you bought in the cabin. I reached out and held your hand before we said a prayer. You looked down and said, "you have beautiful hands, they remind me of my mothers'." I didn't let you see but I started crying because I always thought my hands were stubby and man-like. But you made me feel like they were the most beautiful thing about me. I thank you for this.

Papa when you were diagnosed with ALS I was stunned. I didn't know what it meant, although I had heard about it before. When everyone started telling me what the months and years ahead for you were like, I wanted to take it all away. I didn't want you to have to go through that. You are and were the best man I have ever known. I remember praying with our family, ugly crying for what felt like forever. When you came and hugged me, and you told me "It's all going to be okay sweetheart". When you would call me sweetheart, I knew that was my cue that you needed me to be strong. You only used that when the situation was grave, and it gave me all the strength I needed. I loved our lunches and little grandfather-grandaughter dates we would go on.

When I learned how to stick the needle in your chest in case of emergencies, your strength is what got me through it. That morning that my dad came up into my room and told me you had passed, I couldn't believe it. I promise I will take care of grandma, and try to be the woman you have raised me to be. Thank you for all of the memories and lessons. All of the laughter and amazing stories. Thank you for showing me what a full life actually consists of. I will see you again. I love you.

Your sweetheart,

Kenz

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