I’m sitting at my laptop in my dining room, back at home from Europe, surrounded by the usual clutter and the sound of my dog’s nails against the hardwood floors, typing this on keys that need to be cleaned, and just so completely unready to face a world without my grandfather in it.
It’s crazy how sometimes we can be prepared and sometimes we can’t be, but either way it’s like the person has just walked off stage and you’re waiting and waiting for them to come back for the next act.
My brother said it best yesterday at the cemetery, “If Grandpa was to walk up to me right now and say hi, I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Death is surreal in how final it is. To me, it feels like the people I’ve lost are only waiting in the wings, just behind the red velvet curtains.
But I write about this because we talk about our bucket lists here, which is slightly morbid when you consider that it’s your list of what you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” I don’t pretend to know what was on either of my grandparents’ bucket lists, but I can talk about the legacy they left behind.
By that, I don’t mean fame or fortune or material goods. I mean their lives were their legacy.
Both of them lived their lives in honest, giving, and kind ways that are hard to find anymore. They gave so much of their energy and love to people and animals both, the downtrodden and the down on their luck. Some of these people may not have been the most deserving, but Grandpa and Grandma always found another chance to give and they did so gladly and unconditionally. They were of that fading generation that honored compassion, integrity, and altruism above all else.
Being in my twenties, I think so many of us Millennials are so busy of looking for the next thrill and not a moment beyond it. Others desperately want to follow Peter Pan to Neverland and avoid growing up. And it’s not just twenty-year-olds. So many people are brusque and hardened or selfish and indulged. They live with their eyes inward and their ears plugged to anything but their own whims and hardships.
And I don’t want to live my life that way. I have always strived to make choices that would make my grandparents proud, even more than for my own parents. Putting a smile on my grandfather’s face was the highest badge of honor and achievement. It’s hard to reconcile that I will never earn that badge again. But even if he’s not here, I can still use his moral compass to guide me.
So let’s keep going. Because there’s nothing else we can really do is there? I will keep crossing off things on my list, but I will make sure that my grandparents would be happy to see me do them. I’ll think of my own legacy, and hope to leave behind one as powerful as theirs.
Always with love,