Many times over the last year I have found myself wondering what wisdoms my grandparents would have given me. I often talk with them, catch a glimpse of her picture that rests on my night stand, pick up a batch of pussy willow branches, and wonder just what they would have said to cancer.
Without being able to know exactly what they would have said to me, I think my grandfather’s words of wisdom would have sounded much like, “My special girl, never forget who you are and whom you come from, there is strength in your genes. We don’t take any bull shit and you certainly weren’t raised that way. You stay grounded and never give up. You’ve got this, now lift up your chin up and go take on the world.” He was never the PC grandparent and I loved him for that. Her words likely would have been, “My darling girl, you come here and curl up on my lap, we’ll face this together.”
Every Veteran’s Day I spend time graveside talking with them, honoring them, and laying a dozen red roses at their grave. She would have been 94 years young today and he is my absolute favorite veteran. I have been known to spend a couple of hours there. In that time I remember so many memories, so many things that I miss dearly.
My grandmother often times side swooped my bangs which would make my mother so mad. I believe she had the wisdom then that I couldn’t really rock bangs. When I was trying on wigs I grabbed one that had bangs and put it on quickly realizing I was not someone who could rock bangs, instantly thinking of my grandmother! What I wouldn’t give to be curled up on her lap on their covered back patio. I also cannot look at a peony flower and not think of her.
My grandfather was the straight shooter, never held back, always anticipated your next move, and as a kid you never picked up his orange juice. The first person I had a drink with. The first person I ever gambled with. The person who taught me how to enjoy a good steak. The person who I had a love for MSNBC with when I thought for sure he was republican, he was in fact a democrat. There is a love for him that will always burn bright inside of me. Grandpa, I’ll continue to cast the blue ballot, enjoy a good stiff drink, and be a tell it how it is lady!
Some of my summers were spent in Omaha, Nebraska with him after my grandmother passed. I will forever cherish that time. My summers spent with him and Alta were some of the best teenage/young adult moments of my life. She taught me how to golf and he took me on history adventures, giving life lessons along the way.
Today, I upscaled his favorite vodka and OJ with some Grey Goose Vodka and literally poured one for him. Next year, I will invite my sister in on my tradition and we’ll pick up some Sharp’s Beer to drink graveside, lay flowers, reminisce, and then find a VFW to grab a vodka and OJ just for him!
My grandfather is also a cancer survivor. Not something we talked much about, yet a survivor. He survived colon cancer. Thinking back now, he was my hero, the man who could read through any line of bull shit, the guy who could stand up to cancer and win, the man who taught me professionalism, the man I admired.
What a legacy I am left with! May I pass down even a sliver of the legacy they left me to my children and hopefully my grandchildren one day!
Raise a vodka and OJ tonight to wisdoms passed down from generations that have passed, traditions kept yearly, and a love that never dies!