Dear Grandpopper

A letter to my grandfather, who passed away a year ago.

Dear Grandpopper,

It’s been a year since you had decided that you had enough and fleeted from the world. It made us all really sad, but at the same time, we knew your last years weren’t your best and that now at least you aren’t in pain and you certainly aren’t as crabby!

I missed saying goodbye to you by an hour. I felt badly about that, and still do, but I know you knew your spunky, little, redheaded granddaughter was on her way to bring you cheer and excessive, energetic chatter, and let me tell you, I was bringing my A-game.

You looked like you were asleep and I put the stuffed Grumpy, your kindred spirit of the seven dwarfs, next to you and consequently, he accompanied you into the coffin too. I figured that a companionship like that needed to be continued on into the eternity. I know he is keeping you great company—I didn’t want you to be alone in there.

I never actually thought you would die. If there is an afterlife, I’m sure the guys at the gate knew you would be trouble. What, with the dirty jokes and the crabby nature, they knew things were going to get far too interesting.

I wish we had spoken more, but that was my fault. I took you for granted. I can’t regret what I didn’t do, so I keep you alive as much as I can. I call grandma much more and we talk about you. I have the flag that covered your coffin next to my favorite picture of you, standing in your air traffic control tower looking wicked as ever. Sometimes I talk to that picture and often I wonder how many stories I never knew about you. I know you were a trouble-maker in the war, and it’s one of my favorite things to mull over.

You used to always ask me, from the time I exited the womb of my mother to our final conversation, “are you married yet?” I loved that question. I wanted to be a bride one day, mostly for the dress and less for the guy, and I wanted you to be there to watch me strut down the aisle in my fluffy white gown. After the wedding I’d say, “I’m married yet!” We could share a dance and you could tell me terrible jokes that would make a sailor blush.

Although I’m not married yet and not really engaged either, perhaps something you can appreciate even more is that I’m knocked-up. Despite the generation you come from and the ideals that comes with it, I know you wouldn’t be ashamed of me or disappointed, mainly because you did the same thing! Come on, Uncle Mike was born just a few months after the wedding, you weren’t fooling anybody! When I told grandma to tell her the news, she was ecstatic and said, “well, your grandpopper did the same thing.” Thanks for paving the way for my out-of-wedlock child, you pioneer, you.

I anticipate having a little firecracker, essentially just a smaller, more compact version of me. I wish you could hold the child, I wish you could watch me walk down the aisle, I wish that I could call you and you could talk about my crazy ex-Italian boyfriends and what you really thought about them (accompanied by some inappropriate Italian jokes), but I know I can’t. I can only hope that if you are somewhere floating about the atmosphere, that you can hear me talking to you and be happy.

We all think about the last words that you said to us. I’m so happy that you said this to me the last time we were on the phone:

“That one guy you dated spent more time on his hair than a girl.” Best. Memory. Ever.

I’m sorry you aren’t here for this chapter in my life, but if you can read this, you should know, I’m happy, I’m freaked out, and I’m also really hungry.

I love you, grandpopper. Don’t cause too much trouble.

Sincerely,

Your favorite grandaughter (let’s be honest, we all know it’s true)

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