Right then, nothing was certain. Grandpa was in the hospital. It’s his heart, they said. We gathered together not knowing when or if he would wake up. There was nothing for us to do except wait and be there for each other.
My family isn’t always great at expressing or processing emotions, but in times of need we’re all there in one form or another and that means everything. That we know we’ll always have each other.
It’s scary with our patriarch being in this state. He’s the kind of patriarch that no one wants to smash. The kind that holds you while you grow and wraps you in the love of his smile. He has been a father to all of us — my siblings and I — when our own father would not be. While my grandma was the sometimes cold hand, firmly leading the family, my grandpa was the soft, reassuring pat on the back, encouraging us to live our lives in love and faith.
I’ve never known a man to live in the light as fully as our patriarch. He let it shine through him always. It came through his bright blue eyes that everyone in the family inherited but me. It came through the shit eating grin he wore when he was being “ornery.” He always asked if I was being good, just because he knew I’d ask it back, and he loved to say “no,” even though the answer was always yes. There wasn’t an ounce of him that didn’t radiate goodness and strength.
He said “yellow” instead of “hello” and when he meant to say yellow it was pronounced “yelluh”. My mom adopted his way of saying, “warshing machine.” Even though it drove me mad when she said it, I always found it funny coming from him. He’d say, “Oh, that guy’s just a bird!” and by that he meant ornery, and maybe a little wild. A bird with its head in the clouds. A free spirit, landing only every now and again.
Maybe that’s why my aunt started calling me “Little Bird.” Partially because I’d always fly away, but also because grandpa taught her about spirits like mine.
Now he’s gone, though I carry him with me. When the morning sun rises, I see the twinkle in his eye and I’m reminded of the man who taught me what love is.
I love you, Grandpa
– Your Little Bird