Visit From Grandpa Joe

So you know my dad died when I was eight years old. Dropped dead a few feet from my little sneakers and that was that. Twenty-five years later, I still remember him, but I remember him as an eight-year-old would. I remember riding on his back, I remember him chasing me and tickling me. I remember his energy and his creativity. I remember his silly voices and laughing forever with him.

On Sunday I was alone in the house with Jude, my youngest, and we were doing all the things my father would have loved. I chased the boy as he ran away screaming and laughing, falling down so I could tickle him. I spoke in silly voices and he tried to mimic them in his little toddler squeak. And I could see my dad as a grandfather, soaking up all the energy my little Juder exudes. They would have grinned at each other like idiots, totally unaware of anything but each other. Jude is one year old and my father was forty three, but I can see them in each other. I can see the light shining out of Jude as I saw in my father. I can see my father in Jude’s stubborn independence and refusal to accept help. Or maybe that’s me I see in my son. I’m the link that connects these two beings, totally unaware of each other.

Grandpa Joe was here, little Juder, though I know you don’t know that. I know you only see me, and the way I chase you and tickle you and use my silly voices to make you laugh the way nobody else can. But believe me, grandpa Joe is here, laughing with us and watching you with shining eyes. You were born with the light you carry, kiddo, as I was and Grandpa Joe was, too. Maybe it’s ok that I won’t be around for you forever. As long as I pass on to you the greatest gift my father left for me, which is the undeniable fact of love. Even after he died, I felt loved by him, and I know he loved you, too, my little man. That’s what this light is in his eyes, in mine and in yours. It is simply love, and it cannot be denied or extinguished or diminished, even twenty-five years after death.

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