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A Letter to My Grandfather

December 2, 2013

My Grandpa is truly one of a kind. He’s hilarious, kind, sweet, and generous, among a million other positive attributes I could list. He’s also a worrier and stubborn as hell but I can’t knock him too much because he so generously passed those lovely traits on to me ;) You can learn more about my Grandpa in this birthday tribute I wrote for him last year.

Ben, me, Grandpa - my 28th birthday

(If this post feels a little personal, that’s because it is. But I wanted to document this and you just get the special privilege of being a part of that).

For many years now, we thought my Grandpa might not be around for long. He has had many overlapping medical ailments, each one more annoying than life-threatening and he has managed to tolerate and treat all of them. Experiencing so many scary health moments with him made me appreciate him, and my other grandparents, so much more. (You may recall that one of my 13 in 2013 goals was to visit all of my grandparents regularly).

Lately my Grandpa’s health has been a bit of a rollercoaster so he’s been on my mind a lot more than usual. This year I specifically spent Thanksgiving with my family instead of John’s so that I could spend time with Grandpa; it turned out that he ended up visiting his son a few states away. To be honest, I feel like I missed out on his last Thanksgiving. (He enjoyed his trip though and we’ve had him for most other holidays so I shouldn’t be selfish about it).

I’m not saying my Grandpa is on his deathbed but I’ve been bracing for that for many months now. I’m scared of when that time does come.

Tonite I visited my Grandpa and it all hit me. I don’t even have words to explain what that means but surely you can imagine the feeling of knowing some day, whenever that is, you won’t have your Grandpa anymore. Forever.

I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that I need to ask him questions, or get answers, or listen to stories, or just absorb as much of him as possible. The problem is… I have no idea what that is or how to do it. If there are questions I subconsciously feel the need to ask, what are those questions? If there are stories I subconsciously want to hear and remember, what are those stories? How do I dig deep and figure that out?

I realized tonite that I am so scared that after he’s gone, there will be something I should’ve asked, or something I should’ve gotten an answer to, or something I don’t know because I didn’t [fill in the blank]. And it’ll be too late.

So tonite I wrote him a letter to express what I hope he already knows but neither of us put into words often. My hope is that it will give me peace, calm the feeling that I’m missing something (besides time with him), and give me the sense that I’ve said everything I needed to say. My hope is also that the letter makes him feel great about the life he has led and gives him peace that when the time comes, it’s okay to let go.

This is super private and personal but I’m sharing my letter because I hope you will write your grandparents a letter. Tell them how you feel. Tell them you appreciate them. Tell them what kind of legacy they’re passing on and that their life has great meaning to you. Say the things that you don’t normally say, or maybe haven’t ever said.

Here’s my letter to my Grandfather:

Letter to my Grandpa - December 2013

Dear Grandpa,

You have been, and always will be, the best man I have ever known. You give selflessly and provide for others in all that you do; I admire that so much about you and hope to live my life in the same manner. 

When you are no longer physically with us, I know you will live on through the hundreds (or thousands?) of lives you have touched. Specifically, I know I have inherited some of your traits that will be carried on through future generations:

  • your stubbornness
  • your terrible memory
  • your excellent driving skills
  • your willingness to put others before you
  • how much you value family
  • that you are quick to express appreciation and give compliments
  • keeping everything
  • being open-minded
  • your worrying

I will miss you forever but parts of you will always be with me. Thank you for being such a wonderful role model and leaving a lasting impression on my life. I hope to always make you proud. 

I love you. Forever your granddaughter,

Please go write your grandparents a letter. Call them. Visit them. Help them out. Listen to them. Ask them questions. As interested as you are, they’re even more interested in you.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Tara permalink
    December 3, 2013 6:54 am

    I agree with this 100,000,000,000,000,000%!!!

  2. December 3, 2013 8:58 am

    Oh, J. It’s so sweet that you wrote this and that you want everyone to send and equally lovely letter to their grandparents. I’ve only got one Grandparent left (my mom’s mom) and I love her so much. I don’t get to see her much, so letters and phone calls are especially important.

    My recently departed Grandma Jane used to send people type-written letters. (Her typewriter wrote in cursive!) I always loved getting her letters and seeing the typeface on the envelopes alone would make me smile. I’m asking Santa for a typewriter this Christmas so I can carry the torch. But! I’m not waiting until the end of the month to send letters to my loved ones. There’s no time like the present.

    • December 3, 2013 9:30 am

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen typewriter cursive! I love that that was Grandma Jane’s “thing.” That generation’s handwriting was so interesting in itself though. Like beautiful script art.

      I’m excited you’re writing letters!

  3. December 3, 2013 9:00 pm

    This was so beautiful!! I almost feel that it’s too beautiful and personal for me to leave much of a comment. But just know that I completely understand. I have a Pepere who means the world to me too… And I think that this letter of yours is priceless.

    • December 3, 2013 9:22 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! It’s bittersweet that you can relate, but I guess we can just feel very fortunate to have had such wonderful elders as a big part of our lives.

  4. Annie permalink
    October 30, 2016 4:18 am

    This was so beautiful!!


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