“Continue to cover me that I might go in peace. Continue to keep my lifted that I might go in spirit. Keep my name on your mind when you go to God next time. I need you to cover me” James Moss, 2006
I woke up grieving as I prepared coffee Sunday morning. I held court on the couch for several minutes feeling trapped. And then it hit me like a speeding 18-wheeler delivering goods to Wal-Mart. I miss my grandfather. I lost him in 2009. Then, time stopped indefinitely and subsequently blended together. I think I was living with my mother when God called him to the beyond. I had told him about some horrible event that occurred and he told me: Just watch yourself. I remember him saying: “I’ve been waiting for you. ”
He had been waiting to see me that last evening in 2009. Now, every father’s day since then… my grandfather seems to have never really left.
I had a church service to attend. And I was terribly stuck in grief. Usually, I’d get up and march straight to the shower after my alarm goes off. But I waited for the coffee to make. I powered the TV on and stared into it as though some sort of cryptic message would interrupt MSNBC’s AM Joy. Maybe Jonathan Capehart would tell me to get off the couch and go rattle some chains.
If you ask me about my father I can remember him. He’s alive. He’s easy to find. But it’s my grandfather who I’d choose if given the choice. My grandfather shared with me a love of reading. He read his Bible, his newspaper, and loved books. I think somewhere in his room he owned a law book as well. My grandfather introduced me to Sunday School commentaries because he found that I liked the expanded versions of scripture lessons. My grandfather would always make sure I went to the library. He never complained about picking me up or dropping me off.
When I felt angry about something and didn’t feel connected, I could always depend on my grandfather to share current events with me. We used to talk for hours about corporate mergers, old money versus new money, and politics. High school was hard for me but my grandfather never let me give up on myself. He was determined to help get me to summer school when my grades were crappy. He resisted shaming me when everyone else around me was saying I was just another disabled boy with no future.
And he seemed to love me in the subtlest of ways. He made it okay for me to be a nerd. I think if he were sitting next to me, he’d ask me why I haven’t registered for graduate school. He’d ask why I haven’t moved out of the town I’m living in. He’d ask me why I had pointless arguments with so many stubborn, obstinate relatives. He’d say to me lovingly: Did you think you’d be able to change their hearts with your rebel yell? Don’t you understand that analyzing them only makes them resent you more?
He’d laugh at me with that whistling sound I used to hear. I wouldn’t miss the low murmur of his television when he’d watch every newscast and C-SPAN broadcast ever on a seemingly endless loop.
He’d pat me on the back and say: Why didn’t you save your energy? Have you not learned from my example?
How do I end this entry? I’m afraid to do so. My grandfather flows through me like water. He suffuses to my memory like evenings in front of my aunt’s old floor model television. I was happy blinding myself watching Vanna White turn all those letters. Papa flows through me like a ride in a Cadillac Deville or Lasalle. I felt alive watching the green numbers on the digital speedometer increase and decrease.
It will have been a decade in August 2019. I really cannot say how I’ve remained reasonably kind through the stress of these years. I’m asking God to forgive me in advance because grandpa cannot pull us together anymore, like only he had.
He always told me to be humble. And it’s a fight trying to follow his advice. The selfishness and strife I see around me has reached epic levels. We yell and scream and protest and clown. I sometimes have to remind myself that what I see isn’t fiction.
I still miss my grandpa. I don’t think I’ll ever truly forget him. He never made it to my two college graduations. But I believe that he must be watching over me. He’s got to be… because I don’t always have the strength. God must have my Papa assigned to look over us.
I have to hope he’s proud of what God allowed me to be. I have to hope that there is more giving I must do. I have to hope that Grandfather George is an angel somewhere keeping me alive. Thank you God for the years I had with a wonderful man that was my mentor. He will always be a part of my heart.
To me… a father isn’t the one who gives you food and shelter. Any person can give you that. A father is the one man who helps you build eternal eternal capital: patience, humility, forgiveness, tolerance, a good name.
My grandfather gave me eternal gifts… gifts of true Christian life. And maybe that’s why after almost 10 years I haven’t rushed to forget his memory.