I just took another year around the sun. I remember last year, turning 28 in the pandemic and thinking to myself “what a boring year this will be! An age to forget!”
I was wrong.
I lost my grandfather 11 days before my 29th birthday. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was happy he was at peace and no longer confused. I walked outside and saw the seeds and fuzz of hundreds of dandelions, falling softly like snow. I was transfixed as I watched them float down in the most spectacular and graceful way I had ever seen. It was like stepping into a Miyazaki film.
They fell like that for 2 days. Just letting the breeze take them to the next place to rest. Resting after holding on to their roots for so long, when finally a strong force sent them gently gliding on the wind.
I had visited my family 2 weeks before moving and we had a wonderful visit with just the two of us. I could tell he was tired and confused, but still alert.
It was the first time I was able to see him safely before the pandemic and part of me knew that it would be the last time we would have a moment like the one we had between us that time.
I remember talking to him about something and then he asked me how I was doing and what I was up to; we talked about the books I was reading and how much I loved to learn. How much I had learned in my 28th year and how I couldn’t get enough. He told me that was the best thing in the world, that I loved to learn.
My grandfather was a teacher and an architect. He always made me believe I could do anything. He let me join him in his workshop and helped me design pencil holders and all sorts of wood projects. He took me fishing and camping. I watched him build so many things that I took his strong hands for granted.
When he was diagnosed with dementia, no one could really believe it. This was a man that got part of his colon out and didn’t use a single painkiller after surgery. This was a man who cut off half his palm with a saw and had it sewed back on. He should be immune to things like dementia; but we are all mortal in the end.
I plan to honor my grandfather in a variety of ways. I will continue to learn and to love learning. I will continue to find joy in a job well done. I will uplift those around me. I will love patiently and earnestly. I will endeavor to be as selfless as the wonderful man that we loved and we lost.
I love you Jesse Alexander and I am so thankful you chose to be my grandpa.