Today I’m going to get more personal with you guys. I’ve been struggling with something, and I feel like I just need to get this all out and maybe some of you will be able to relate.
One of my grandpas passed away about two and a half years ago, and my last grandpa passed away a year after that. They were two of the most wonderful people I have ever known, and they were the inspiration for my and my sister’s matching tattoos.
This was my sister’s right after we got them done. The redness and color have faded now, and it looks just beautiful.
Shortly after my sister’s 18th birthday, we got matching tattoos of a heart with a guitar pick in the middle to honor our grandpas. One always put a heart on everything he made out of wood, and the other (the one I’m talking about today) always played guitar. In fact, I’ve had one of his guitar picks in my wallet since shortly after his funeral. She got hers on her left shoulder blade, and I got mine on my right.
I thought I had to suffer in silence and pretend I was okay even though I was having a hard time dealing with him being gone. No one told me to stop talking about him; I’m not sure why, but I just decided that was what I had to do. I was wrong.
While it’s been tough dealing with the fact that both of those grandpas are gone, lately I’ve been having a really hard time letting go of my grandpa who passed away about two and a half years ago, Gramps.
He wouldn’t want me to keep dwelling on the fact that he’s gone. I know that. Now I’m doing my best to remember the good times and channel my grief into happiness so I can move on.
I’ve decided to learn how to live more like Gramps, so let me introduce you to him:
At my high school graduation party
- He was basically the king (which is funny because Elvis is one of his favorite musicians).
He was the coolest, funniest, loudest and most positive person I’ve ever met. His mantra was “Sh** happens.” Seriously. He even had a shirt with that saying on it he would wear underneath his professional, perfectly pressed button-down shirts. He was known as a bad-ass pimp in our family, and if you knew him, it was easy to see why. He didn’t take crap from anyone, but he was never rude. He would always crack jokes and laugh in the most infectious, hilarious and loud way all of the time. Everybody loved him, and he loved everyone else right back.
- He was always calm, cool and collected.
He didn’t really worry. He knew everything would always work out, and it always did. He worked hard, and he never judged anyone. He hakuna matata’d his way through life. He always made you feel special and loved, whether he’d known you for years or he’d just met you.
- Music and family were his reasons for living.
Elvis, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard were some of his favorites, and he would play guitar and sing along with a karaoke machine at all of our family functions, including my college graduation. He’d even go around his town and perform at nursing homes and other places as well to spread his musical joy. And he would do anything for family, including helping me co-sign for a loan for my first car and then randomly making payments on it even though I didn’t ask him to. He did it just because he could and he wanted to help.
At my college graduation party with the car he helped me get in the background
- His enthusiasm and laughter were infectious.
I mean, seriously, he was loud. He did not have an indoor voice at all. Back when I was in college, I was in choir for a year. A bunch of family members came to town to attend one of the Christmas choir concerts, and we all went out to eat first. There were probably a dozen or so of us crammed into a few tables at Village Inn, and it was just chaos. We had decided to exchange gifts at this time as well (bad idea), so there were people and presents just everywhere. And of course my grandpa was talking loudly and laughing and my grandma (his wife) said “Arlin, be quiet. We’re in public.” And he responded “What public?!” And then he just laughed and laughed. This has continued to be a family joke even six years later.
- Even when times were hard, he didn’t dwell on negativity.
He was so patient, kind and strong. He always found a solution to a problem, and he did it with a smile on his face. He always saw the brighter side of any situation. His house was robbed when he and my grandma were on vacation in California over Christmas, and when he talked about how the robbers took everything, he laughed and said “even the damn coffee filters.”
I mean, there are worse traits to have or want in this world, right?
It’s really easy for me to get caught up in negativity and chaos, and then I always feel just drained and exhausted. I’m working on not letting things get to me as easily. It’s a process, and I’m getting a little better each day.
Me wearing one of his old cowboy hats
I feel Gramps’ presence in my life every day, whether it be through a song on the radio, by looking at all the things I have that he made for me or perusing through old photographs, and I’m so very grateful for that.
If you’ve lost someone you love, you know how difficult it is. I’m trying to find my own way of dealing with his passing, over two years later, and I’m finally coming to make peace with it. I want to honor him and his life, not dwell on the fact that physically he’s gone from Earth.
And when all else fails, I’ll just say, “Eh, sh** happens.”