Today isn’t about me. It’s not about my adventure, my sponsors, friends or even family. Today is about the man who meant more to me than anything. My best friend, my role model, my Grandpa.
My Grandpa is the man I grew up trying to model myself after. Ever since I was 4 years old, and took my 1st trip from Florida to Michigan without my parents, he was the one who knew what to say when I started crying for home. “Shut up’, he said ‘and if you be quiet, I’ll take you to see the Indians” Of course I started to ball in fear though, when my 4 year old little self, saw the sight of the Cherokee Indian, Chief Dennis Wolf in full warrior garb, but that’s beside the point . From that car ride on, there began a bond greater than I could have ever dreamed of.
Every summer, on his farm in Michigan I would go. Some kids took spring breaks, summer breaks or vacations to the beach. I went to that little farm in Michigan. What was offered there, was greater than any traveling, vacation or adventure ever has come close to doing for me since. It was there my Grandpa waited every time with open arms and a big, “Hello, here’s the list of things we need to do while you are here”.
No matter if I shot my Grandma in a butt with an arrow, screwed up a direction, or even that once I almost burned the neighbors barn down, he was there…having my back every step of the way.
It was on that farm by the kitchen table, from his brown chair or any of the countless jobs we did together that I heard stories. Stories of the olden days, sports stories, school stories, family stories and even stories that may have just been “stories” like the time he was stationed with Ted Williams AND Willie Mays in the war. Nevertheless, I was always captivated and lingering on every smokey word he said, in between puffs of his cigarette.
It was my Grandpa who taught me how to grow up, how to be a man and how to treat “all” people. It didn’t matter who you were, to him you were a friend, a ‘Myrtle’ or just another person he could yolk (joke) with in the grocery store. If you needed anything, he would have given the shirt off his back or anything else for anyone and everyone…but especially me.
Life is a strange thing. One minute you can be in a Dr’s office, listening to them tell you not to drive home cause your hero isn’t going to make it through the weekend. Then you can watch him, battle not once to come home, but twice…all while never losing that fun-loving personality, and more importantly his faith, all the way to the end of a long year and a half later. Memories of a fading old man, singing meekly along to Georgia on my Mind, as you play it on the piano at his request, just so you know he’s there, those are mine. Using every bit of energy he had left, just to give you one last piece to remember him by. It was in those times, while he was at his weakest, or maybe really his strongest, that he taught me my final lessons. He once told me “never quit on anything”, and that is one thing he never did in any aspect of life.
He was my best friend. He was the one I could go to about anything. Without his influence in my life, I wouldn’t be half of what I am today. It’s not about mourning that he is gone. It’s about carrying on with who he tried to mold me to be, and who I continue to try and be. To always carry that piece of him with me, while I do my best to live up to his expectations. 3 years ago today my best friend may have went away, but with me, he always stays.
Today is for my Grandpa.