Tuesday, December 20, 2011


"Where did Grandpa go?" the child asks.
"He's in heaven now." her mother answers.
"What's heaven?" asks the puzzled child.
"Heaven is where God lives."
"Why did Grandpa go there?"
"Because it was his turn to be with God."
"Can I go too?"
"Someday, when its your turn."
"Oh. Mom, when I go can I take my teddy bear?"

The child struggles to understand what has happened to her grandfather, but the concept of death is beyond her grasp.

He had always been there ... a knight in shining armor chasing away the monsters that lurked under her bed ... a partner
in crime, stealing cookies when Mom turned her back ... a cherished companion offering the warm, safe refuge of his arms when she needed a hug. Grandpa had been her friend and more; he was
the center of her universe.

He made her feel she was someone special. She was not merely a child, but HIS grandchild, and for his grandchild he painted the "American Dream." She would go far in the world, accomplish great things. But all that was far, far away, somewhere out there in the future.

For now they could walk in the park and eat strawberry ice cream on the front porch. They could discover the treasure hidden within each Christmas package and birthday surprise ... build snowmen and sandcastles ... sing one extra chorus of her favorite song.

Suddenly he had been taken away to this place called heaven, with God and the angels ... that was where Grandpa lived now.

I was the little girl, only five when my grandfather died. His premature death brought him immortality, immortality of a special kind. I shall forever see my grandfather through the loving and idealistic eyes of a child. A child not yet disenchanted by life's cruel blows. I remember only the good, the kind-heartedness,
the love of my grandfather.

The greatest benefactors of my grandfather's love were the members of his family, especially the grandchildren. Family was
my grandfather's most valued possession. By the time of my debut into this family, grandfather's four daughters had given him five granddaughters. Surrounded by so many of the female persuasion, my grandfather must have prayed for a boy with each new child. If he was disappointed, it was not evident, for he enjoyed each of us girls, making us feel special and showering us all with love.

Each one of us felt his love in our own special way. Each one of us grew up believing we had been his favorite. Grandfather had given us a special gift; he had made each one of us feel that we were someone special, individuals, each with our own gifts to give.

My grandfather then was a man with his own special gift to give, and he gave each and every member of his family this most precious gift ... his love. This love remains with us forever, and for me remains forever untarnished because it is the pure, idealistic love of a grandfather for his grandchild.

I originally wrote this piece in 1987, a ceremonial speech for Communication Arts 104. I've been attempting to find it for about a month. Yesterday, while carrying Christmas decorations from our basement, two boxes marked 'Memories' caught my eye. I abandoned my decorating, emptied the contents of 'Memories' onto my kitchen counters, table and floor. The lost is found.

Today I take a moment, read my Grandfather's obituary, one I found online a couple of years ago. His obituary appeared in the local newspaper 21 December 1967. It does not list a cause of death. In hushed tones the adults whispered suicide.

The child now sees what she was told, his heart simply gave out.

Grandpa died just days before Christmas.

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