“Live it like we’re under the lights of the stadium / Fight until the day that God decides to wave us in / Right until he waves us in”- My Oh My, Macklemore

Today I received a letter from my Grandpa. 

Which wouldn’t really be that significant, except for the fact that he passed away on Sunday. 

Naturally being a storyteller, I tried to find the narrative behind it. Grasping the unopened envelope as I walked out of the post office, my imagination ran wild. Did he know his death was imminent? Would there be a letter inside  expressing some kind of cryptic message meant to inspire or encourage me?

As you might have guessed, the answer is ‘no.’ 

He wrote about how my Aunt set up a hummingbird feeder on the back porch. About the pleasant, sunny weather they’d been having. And about a drive he took around Spanaway Lake Park. He expressed happiness at a ‘deal’ my Dad and I made last December. (My Dad paid off one of my student loans in exchange for not packing craft beer in my suitcase to Morocco and a promise to attend at least 12 masses this summer, given my recent lack of faith. I didn’t even know my Dad told him about it.) He wished me a Happy St. Patty’s Day and good tidings as my service in the Peace Corps comes to an end. 

A simple letter expressing his appreciation for the everyday things in life. He honed into and sought beauty in all things. Something I strive to do every day. 

He closed it by saying, “Grateful for your service to our country.” 

That’s exactly who my Grandpa was. 

Grateful. Humble. Hardworking. 

In light of his passing, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my place in this world. How I fit in it. How I got to be where I am today. Where I’m going. And perhaps, most importantly about the people that helped pave this path for me. 

My parents obviously played a huge role, but so did my grandparents. 

College, the Peace Corps, opportunity- none of it would have been possible without the hard work of my Grandpa and his father before him. A Slovak immigrant, my great grandfather arrived on Ellis Island penniless, having gotten his belongings stolen on the ship. He worked as a tailor to support his family. My Grandpa himself usually worked two jobs. My Dad often says, “If I worked half as hard as my father…” And it’s true. My Grandpa knew a lot about struggle and loss, but he also knew about love and compassion. A life well lived. 

Doubtless his legacy helped shape me. He’s a part of me. 

In fact, I like to think that we’re made up of all kinds of bits and pieces of the people we  encounter in life. Good and bad. We carry them with us. Where ever we go. 

So I’ll close this by saying that I’m grateful to my Grandpa for his service to me, my family, and the world in general. 

Rest in peace.

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Filed under Being Thankful, Family, Life, Musings

12 responses to ““Live it like we’re under the lights of the stadium / Fight until the day that God decides to wave us in / Right until he waves us in”- My Oh My, Macklemore

  1. joleen allen

    Beautiful Mel!! a lovely reminder of being grateful and seeing the beauty in life :) ~ Joleen “Bernardy” Allen

  2. Shauna Steadman

    Darling Mel, in service to America in my beloved Morocco.
    it is a little hard to face the passing of a loved one while serving. I know from personal experience – my mother passed my second year in.

    I like the way that you are seeing the perspective and how provident it is that you got a letter from your grand dad just as his life was ebbing away from you. I wish that I had known him.

    As you finalize these last few months before May, I hope that you will be able to fit in all that you hope to get done. Visit your Moroccan friends often. Going back is not the same as being there while in service. You have had one of the choicest experiences that life will ever afford you. Nothing short of kids and marriage will change you in such dramatic ways. Every RPCV thinks his/her country is really the best country to have known, but Morocco really is!

    I will miss your blogs and your connection to MY Morocco. Thanks for being such a sweetheart, (albeit it not a church going one). I made a like promise to my dad on his deathbed, a year of attendance (and fulfilled that promise). I still don’t go to church.

    With sympathy, Shauna

    • THANK YOU SHAUNA! Your comments are always so uplifting and heartwarming. I appreciate it. Sorry to hear about your Mom. Especially in Morocco, I imagine that would’ve been so difficult.I hope that someday we’ll get to meet in ‘real’ life! Thanks for the reminders to live in the present. Sometimes I think I still take it for granted. Take care!

  3. jax

    Beautifully written, reminds me of my grandfather. What a lovely gift he left you, a simple letter, but one which means so much. Sorry for your loss.

  4. Debra

    Mel-I am so so sorry. It is so hard to be faraway when a loved one dies. I have to share with you that my mother died Sunday as well. I got to her Saturday and am grateful for that time before she died. Take care.

  5. Mom

    as usual, I love reading your posts. Love you MOM

  6. Aunt Kate

    Melanie, I’ve been meaning to write but as you know it’s been real, real here as of late. Loved this post so much. Your mom read it at the Rosary and it just touched me so deeply. My heart thanks you. Your grandpa was SO proud of you. Love you, Aunt Kate. See you before too long! :)

  7. Pingback: Coming Full Circle and Appreciation | Post Grad Mel

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