It’s tradition. Grandpa always gets a birthday shout-out. I don’t know how to not recognize him and his influence on my life. People often tell me how much I look like my mom, it’s something you just can’t miss. But what they often don’t say is how much she looked like her dad. You can see it in pictures over a range of ages if you compare photos. You can definitely see it as they aged and deteriorated. It’s a mixed blessing to see them in me, and to recognize how time will take a toll on me.
But in more than our looks, there are points that tie the three if us together. My grandpa had an amazing and unwavering faith. He traveled to Jerusalem, always had a Bible by his side, and believed in the simplicities of life that it spelled out. He gave to charity, kept himself physically fit until he couldn’t anymore, and held his children to a high standard.
My mom followed in the footsteps of her dad in her firm faith, her love to travel, her passion for giving back, and her care for self and others. Though she wasn’t convinced she’d get married or have children, both ended up a part of her story and she was committed to providing for her family in a myriad of ways. She loved the three of us girls with a fierceness that couldn’t quite be grasped when we were young. She was strong, and tenacious, and carried the silliness and wisdom she learned from her dad into her own parenting style.
I remember more of my grandpa’s life in a car facility than I do his time out. But some of the earliest memories I have, come from days spent at his apartment: doing laundry in the machines and playing on the playground as he and Herb folded clothes. I remember fig newtons, and smiles. I remember the way he’d squeeze your hand in a way that you thought he might never let go. And I remember in the moments we couldn’t communicate (because I was too young or he was too old) the winks.
I often wonder what he would think about the person I am today. What words of wisdom he might share for my current vocation. And how he might support me if he was still here. Happy (almost) 110th, Grandpa.