Gratitude Dare, Life Lessons

My Long-Forgotten Thank You: Grandpa

I needed to share, today.

At first, I was going to look up an old junior high teacher [Mr. Cleaverly, if you ever find this you’re awesome. Some day I’ll thank you properly] to thank for today’s personal challenge, but yesterday something my soul has been processing for a while finally came into focus.

I was delving into my soul in order to figure out just what was nagging at the back of my mind. I learned so much about myself, but this isn’t the place. In my research, I discovered a “connections” category. Basically, the circuits in the world around us keep us connected to family, ourselves, our body, higher powers… and our angels. The source of the information discussed how “angels” is a term that is vague. It’s left for interpretation, or for whatever level of understanding you’re at. Some feel it’s guardian angels, some feel it’s loved ones that watch out for us, and often, it means something different to each individual. I take that to mean, it’s something that no one person has complete information on. It’s divine. So, I considered it for a second. And my soul just seemed to scream that I was missing something there. I can’t explain it; something happened. And as I looked into it further (it was a mere second, I swear. The information was just there), my grandpa came to my mind.

When I was a child, my grandpa was sick. I don’t remember a healthy grandpa. His life consisted of his hospital-style bed, his lift chair, a walker with tennis balls on the legs, and the occasional drive to the middle of no where. People would tell stories about how hard-working he was, how much he did, and that working was part of his core value; but to the child I was, that was all foreign. The soldier, the farmer, the provider, the man – these were grandpa in a past life. I had no concept of how much that had to eat at him, stuck to his house with everyone helping him instead of him out helping the world. To me, he was the man who always spoke in a whisper, could never pronounce my name right, and who gave me quarters until the quarters ran out; then he gave me candy. Grandma always made sure he had candy to give. When I look back with 28-year-old eyes, I see so much more. I would love to go back and re-live that time with him! As a 28-year old, I am able to see that with a mother who was ill, a grandmother that was busy, a dad that worked far from home, and siblings that I raised, Grandpa was my guardian. He watched me. He gave me everything that he had: love, quarters, candy. I think he alone saw my pain.

When I did counseling at the beginning of the year, the counselor asked me to relax and go back to a time in my past; a meditation, if you will. We walked all over my house, all over my side of the mountain, and all over my grandmother’s house [we lived near each other, in a wood… over a creek, that I counted as a [tooltip text=””over the river and through the woods…”]river[/tooltip]]. In that entire universe I’d created for myself, there were only two people. Me… and grandpa. In all of the bustle of the world, I was forgotten by everyone but him. I raised myself. I don’t blame my parents, or anyone. My mom had a lot on her plate. My dad did everything he could for us. But that is the truth. I’ve never shared it with anyone (that I didn’t pay to listen to me), because I didn’t want to hurt my family by its confession. I bawled then, too. Suddenly, though I’d felt alone my entire life, I realized that my grandpa had always been there for me. Watching me. Offering advice. I’d never accepted it. As a kid raising herself, the person that reaches out with his soul is scary. But as an adult… I bawled and bawled to learn that I was not alone. That I was never alone.

On the day we traveled for Grandpa’s funeral, when I was seventeen, the roads were icy. We had moved about 5 hours from my grandparents by then. It had been a hard year, and my dad was overseas. Mom, who hated driving but didn’t trust my driving skills yet, was taking us over a mountain pass. Suddenly, an ice patch threw us into the bank of snow that was the only barrier between us and a huge drop over the side of the mountain. I remember thinking “Really? Like this trip isn’t hard enough! Why would something like this happen!” But there was no damage to the vehicle, my mom had enough experience to mutter under her breath, take a deep sigh to calm her down, check the car, and continue on our way. Just around the corner from where we were (we’ll say 500 feet because it sounds good, though I really had no way to judge distance), There was a moose standing in the middle of the road. Moose are big and solid. They don’t give. Especially not for a little 90’s model Mazda. Had we been going the speed posted, we would have had no time to stop, would have skidded right into it, and I wouldn’t be telling this tale. People don’t just survive a moose-collision. And need I remind you that on one side is solid mountain, and on the other is sheer cliff? Later, after we’d arrived and before the viewing, mom talked to me. She told me that the ice was nothing compared to the stuff we’d driven over safely. She’d also told me that it had felt like the whole vehicle had been pushed. She also felt grandpa nearby. I’d always loved that story, and it has always stayed with me as an anecdote of miracles and angels, and survival stories. But it came to light more to me over the past 12 hours. Secretly, I’ve always felt like that story was for me. I don’t think mom told anyone else, and even though it felt shameful to think that although Grandpa would want to save the rest of his posterity, he did it all for me; I was that special.

That is important. Above all else, that speaks to me. That in a full car, Grandpa protected us to save me. And I know there would be many benefits, but somehow I feel special enough. If I were in the car by myself, and if it had been something besides a funeral, I was still important enough to save. As a girl that struggles to understand love, even love of God, that message comes screaming through. My grandfather has taught me love. Even when I didn’t know it. Even when it took 28 years for me to get the message. He is my example of my Heavenly Father. He is my example of love.

All of this flashed back to me in milliseconds, and suddenly, when I mentally fixed the broken connection in my soul, It was like plugging in a floodlight. I was so full of joy, my eyes could not contain it. Tears streamed down my face. I don’t think it was all my joy, and all my tears. I think that Grandpa was just as glad to have that connection fixed. Suddenly, he was a part of me. Like he’s wanted to be my entire life. He’s stood at my door and knocked. And knocked. And knocked. And I finally know it’s safe to open the door.

He is my guardian angel.

And I thank him.

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