Dear Grandpa,

You’ve been on my mind a lot lately, and with Christmas – the first one without you – only a day away, I wanted to check in and share a few thoughts with you.

A year ago as we gathered to celebrate the holidays, you weren’t doing so good, and even though I miss you tons, I don’t wish for you to still be here with us in the shape you were in then. In the long run, grief is a small price to pay in exchange for the end of a loved one’s suffering. And even though a significant part of me would love to see you walk through my front door with Ma and Dad on Christmas morning, I very much prefer that you are wherever you are now, enjoying whatever “heavenly peace” turns out to be.

Maybe you’re hanging out with Grandma on a sunny front porch in your own personal Valhalla. Or perhaps you’re a free spirit, surfing cosmic waves from beyond the tenth dimension. Or it could very well be that the bundle of energy that once made you you is now dispersed into the universe, the essence of your being now the essence of other beings.

I don’t know. But wherever you are now, whatever you are now, I know you’re still around somewhere.

A couple weeks back you visited me in a dream. I awoke with that sensation. Not that I had dreamt about you, but that you dropped in for a chat via my dreaming mind.

We were out for a ride on a sunny day, traveling through hilly country in one of the old farm trucks. 

And you were lecturing me. Stern. To the point. But compassionate. 

I couldn’t remember about what, though. I thought about it all the way to work that morning, and most of the day, too. I wondered if maybe I’d blown the whole thing out of proportion, but then I heard a woman on a podcast that very day say how her grandfathers visited her in dreams at separate times to teach her important things.

Nothing makes a guy sit up and pay attention like a good bit of synchronicity.

But I still couldn’t remember what you said, and it really bothered me.

In part, it bothered me because the last thing I did for you – writing and delivering your eulogy – is lost to history now. When my laptop crashed, I lost the digital version of the eulogy, and the print copies I thought I had can’t be found. I’m pretty torn up over this, and not remembering what you said in the dream just added insult to injury.

Anyway, a few days ago I was getting overwhelmed with the demands of the season, and I nearly lost my patience. I started to feel the way I used to feel about Christmas; that I’d rather not deal, that it’d be best to simply let everyone else carry on without me.

That’s when I heard you.

“What’d I tell you to do? Weren’t you listening?”

Your voice sent me back.

I was seven years old again, giving the heifers too much grain after you’d told me exactly how much they needed. Fourteen years old and grinding the gears on the old Ford Workmaster just as soon as you’d shown me how to put it into first. Forty-four and trying to get you to please eat a little more, even though you’d said you weren’t hungry.

In that moment, I remembered the conversation we had while I slept. How you told me to focus on my family and not worry about the expectations of everyone else. That I shouldn’t worry so much in general. 

Some will say that you didn’t say any of this. That it was just my subconscious processing the constant churn of thoughts that fill my head. And they might be right. I don’t know. But it doesn’t really matter. Not to me, anyway. 

I’ve spent the afternoon prepping Christmas breakfast and dinner as Alison worked on a holiday project. Ma and Dad will be here tomorrow morning to eat blueberry coffeecake and breakfast casserole with Alison, me, and our four kids before opening presents. Of course, I want it to be perfect, and I’ve gotten edgy with myself a couple times. 

Fortunately, I’ve got your words to remind me to stay the course, taking it slow and easy.

As far as Christmas gifts go, that’s a pretty perfect one. Merry Christmas, ol’ boy.
I love you,
Ethan

P.S. Let Grandma know that we’re still making her homemade baked beans down here.

One thought on “Dear Grandpa,

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