An essay from latest book, "Don't Forget Me".
I consider myself very fortunate, or perhaps lucky, to have met all four of my biological grandparents. I know that many are not afforded that opportunity. I didn’t get to know my paternal grandparents very well. They passed away when I was eight and nine years old. On the other hand, I got to spend nineteen years getting to know my maternal grandfather and thirty-one years getting to know my maternal grandmother.
My mom’s parents only lived about forty minutes away from my childhood home, which meant I got to see them very often or at least once a week. My grandfather passed away during my freshman year of college. The day after his funeral my childhood dog died.
It seemed fitting, I suppose, that they passed within such a short time span of each other. My beloved dog was a collie, which were known for being a friendly and welcoming dog. However, my dog, Sandy, was actually quite the opposite. She was friendly and kind to me, but also fiercely protective of me, and aggressive towards anyone who came to our house.
There was only room for five people in her life and Grandpa was one of them. In the summer he would make weekly visits to our home where he kept a large garden. At the site of his truck pulling up our long driveway, Sandy would jump up and down, tail wagging, with glee knowing that Grandpa had arrived. She would excitedly greet him as he opened the door of his truck. I can still envision her tail wagging and hear her excited barking.
Grandpa never got to see me get engaged or get married, but Grandma did. I remember when my husband and I were newly engaged we went to visit her in the assisted living home. Most people joyfully exclaimed, “Congratulations!” when we told them of our news. However, Grandma was never one to mince words and prudently said, “Well it’s not going to be easy. No matter what happens just keep talking to each other.”
She was right. Through our trials and tribulations during our young, six years of marriage, we have fallen back on those words she told us. When she passed away, I was overseas in Germany.
I felt sad because I knew that I would never get to share my stories of traveling in Europe with her. In many ways, I knew that I was there because of her. She often told stories of living in Spain and Brazil and those stories made me want to explore the world just as she had done. I cried in the lobby of our hotel upon receiving the news and again on the overnight train to Venice. I looked out the window of the train wondering if she was looking down on me then, traveling to my next adventure.
I’ve been through quite a few stages of adulthood including getting married, having a career, and buying a home, but nothing quite made me feel like I had lost my childhood like losing all of my grandparents. Part of my childhood, my playful spirt, and my innocent view of the world also seemed to leave when they left. The words of wisdom from a wrinkled face are now gone. The stories of hope and perseverance through difficult times are no longer told. All that remains now is a memory of what use to be.