My Grandfather Needs to Live Forever

I was raised by a single working mother in a 900-square foot, basement-level condo, which was owned by my grandfather.  He lived across the street from us, and I saw him pretty much daily. He dropped me off at school and picked me up. He took me to dance class 3 or 4 days a week. He always made sure that while my mother was working, I was well taken care of. 

He used to ask me every single day when I got in his car after school “What did you learn today?” My answer was ALWAYS “Nothing, Grandpa…” He’d always tell me to stop biting my nails or not to cross my legs because I’d get varicose veins.  He’d lecture me about my attitude being “ugly” or about how there’s a consequence for every action I make.

For a long time – during my younger years – my grandpa was my best friend, my only male role model. 

During my adolescent years I completely blew him off when he asked me to go to church with him, or to accompany him to a play or anything else that wasn’t “cool” anymore.  I always thought my grandpa had an unlimited amount of time on the earth – he was immortal to me. I took advantage of his kindness and the life lessons he tried so hard to instill in me because I think I really convinced myself that there would always be time to make things right.


Here I sit – at 32 years old – and I’m faced with a truth that I’ve never accepted: My grandpa will not live forever. He just turned 86 years old last week. He’s had a cancer scare, he lives with diabetes, his memory is failing. It’s becoming all too real.  I’m honestly not sure how I can live my life without him. 

He’s been one of my biggest supporters even though I’ve failed him many times. I’ve done things and said things that were so disrespectful to him. I’ve called him crazy, I’ve told him to leave me alone, I abandoned our monthly theater going experiences – all because I thought I’d never run out of time with him. I always thought: “I’ll call him later…” or “I’ll  see him next week…” 

He loves my children. He loves my children SO much. He speaks so highly of them to everyone. He actually told me he was proud of the way my husband and I are raising them. He praises us for doing all the right things. He showers them with love and affection and I really hope they’ll remember how much they are loved by him…long after he’s gone. That’s the first time I’ve ever typed “he’s gone” or even said it. It still doesn’t seem like something that will really happen.


This has always been a sensitive topic with me – ever since I became an adult and began to process the thought of death.  Even more so now, I think about it constantly as a parent. I’m supposed to be the strong one now. I’m supposed to be the one who knows it all and who can handle anything life throws at me. When it comes to thinking about my grandfather in any situation now – especially thinking of his death -I don’t want to be the adult. I want to curl up in his lap like a little girl and watch The Sound of Music, just like we used to.  If I knew then what I know now (how cliche is that) I would take advantage of every moment with my grandpa. I would go to church with him every Sunday. I would answer the phone every time he called. I would wear all of the goofy clothes he made me. I would take back the hurtful things I said. 

All I can do now is continue to make him proud. I will continue to involve him in my children’s lives. He will always be welcome in my home and I will take every opportunity to tell him how much I love him, and how the lessons he taught me when he thought I wasn’t listening as a child are the things I’m striving to instill in my babies. And I’ll tell them he is the one who taught me those lessons. Now, and when my Grandpa is gone.


Do you, or did you have a special relationship with a grandparent?

What life lessons have, or did your grandparents teach you?


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