As the holiday season is upon us, it’s hard to believe my family will soon be facing them with extreme loss in our hearts. Last month, I lost my grandfather to many years of battling with cancer and sickness. My grandfather played such a vital role in my life, and in the life of every other member of my family.
I want this letter to remind all grandparents just how valuable and appreciated your time and presence is in your grandchildren’s lives. Life is so sweet, but so short, and little did I know I would be preparing a speech for my grandfather’s funeral a few weeks ago.
While I will be facing the holidays without my grandfather, his legacy lives on in my heart and I want to leave with you today some of the words that I shared at his funeral.
In middle school, my writing teacher assigned a paper to my class and the topic was to write about someone who is our biggest inspiration. I immediately knew that I would write about my Papa. The title of my paper was, “The Person Who Changed My Life”.
And that title still holds true today.
In summary, my paper talked about the many challenges that Papa had faced over the years in battling cancer, doctor’s visits, reconstructive surgeries, and even heart surgery. I spoke of how, in spite of all of it, he never gave up. My Papa was a fighter and had the strongest love for family through it all. The last line in my paper states, “My Papa taught me how to appreciate life and every minute that passed me by. He will always be my inspiration.”
This paper sat in my box of sentimental collections for years and I knew that one day I wanted to share it with him before it was too late. Thankfully, almost a year ago, I decided it was time to type a fresh copy and share it with him and I added this piece at the end:
I wrote this paper in my first writing class in middle school. A lot has changed since then. And praise the Lord, one of those things has been my writing skills. I want to direct the rest of this paper at you, Papa. You will truly never know how much an inspiration you are to me. You have continued to go through so much over the past few years. But you have never stopped being the Papa that I will always look up to and love more than you know. In my childhood, the little things meant the most: the vacations, the treats, and other small things. These days, your knowledge, your motivation, your love and guidance, and most importantly, your time means the most. Papa, believe me when I tell you, you are the most incredible grandfather that I could have ever been blessed with, and you have done more than enough for my family and me. This paper can never describe my love for you. You and Gammie have been the best grandparents and supporters that any grandchild could dream of. I will never forget the day you took me for ice cream before I left for my first year at college and presented me with your mother’s beautiful necklace. That will forever be one of those moments in my life that I will cherish in my heart. You have no clue the emotions I felt. That showed me just how much you care for me. Papa, you are the biggest persevering hero I have ever met, and I will forever be grateful for your leadership. Thank you so much for believing in me when it feels as though no one else does. I think of you and Gammie and everyone else in our family when my days get hard at school. Thank you for walking all around my campus my freshman year; it may have felt like nothing but sore feet and blisters to you, but it meant the world to me. The two of you joked that the next trip you made to Winthrop would be my graduation four years later, and I knew that you weren’t kidding. Believe it or not, you and Gammie’s time is up, and its time to make another trip soon, because in May of 2016, I will be graduating and accomplishing one of my biggest dreams… all because of you. So thank you. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being the true image of what a husband, a brother, a father, a friend, and a grandfather should be. I love you more than life itself. Don’t you ever forget it.
I love you,
Though very weak, my Grandfather was involved in every aspect of my life up until his passing. He was there to see me receive my degree from Winthrop University just five short months before his passing. He never missed a significant event in my family’s lives, and he was always there to listen, share his jokes, magic tricks, stories, and most importantly his love.
I’m not quite sure what the holidays will feel like without him, but I know that a large piece of my life is now missing. So I want to challenge those of you today who fill the role as a grandparent in any form or fashion: be present in your grandchildren’s lives and never take one moment for granted.
You will never truly know how appreciative your grandchildren are of the small and great sacrifices that you make every single day. This holiday season is the perfect time to be the best grandparent you can be, and not only that, but raise your families up in Christ and center every action around Him. You are more appreciated and respected than you know, and as grandkids, we cannot thank you enough for believing in us, and setting the foundation for a relationship with Christ.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” – Proverbs 22:6
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