Dear Grandpa, thanks for the lessons.
It’s been one year. 365 days since I saw you. 52 weeks since I got to see your smile, hear your laugh or felt your hug. I know you are out of pain and I hope you are enjoying your time in heaven. There are not enough words to express how much I miss you.
I still catch myself picking up the phone to call you when the calendar says the 25th. I miss getting phone calls from you when you know the weather is going to be bad.
I can still feel you hug as your face was prickly cause you haven’t shaved. I can still see you “running” after us to get us in the car with your shirt over your mouth as the “tickle monster.” As I reflect on the past year without you, I appreciate the time that I did have with you. There is something special about having grandparents that are so involved in your life. As I reflect on this time together, I came up with 7 lessons that you taught me although there was much more here are my favorite.
1. Hard work
I remember stories my mom told us about when you would work all the time to provide for the family. I could see that even after you had retired with just everyday activities. You would go to rehab a couple of days a week, you would come to a basketball game, soccer games, or any sporting event without fail to cheer on your grandchildren. That takes determination especially with 11 grandchildren all involved in different sports.
There is not a time in my memory that you were not put together. When my mom had cancer, never a time I saw you upset. When grandma broke her leg, and you were sitting in the hospital in your white vneck, and you could tell that my grandma was in pain you were there to hold her hand and help. Going through things like this is never easy, and it would be easy to break down and not continue with normal life, but you did not do this. This has encouraged me to be strong and be willing to face the hard stuff head-on.
Laughter was a staple in the Steins household. In the French Oak house, there was always a tickle fight or a scaring moment that would happen in the basement that ended in stomach hurting laughter. Although throughout the years your hearing went downhill you were still there to say that aliens were landing or speaking to you because of the sound of your hearing aids. I have memories of laughing so hard at meals that I thought I would have Jello come out of my nose and you know you were encouraging the act.
Anyone that knows that Steins Family knows there is always food involved in family gatherings. You taught me that there is never enough food and to be open to trying new things. Some of the foods that you made me try include mac and cheese with French dressing, radishes, beats, and tomato sandwiches… the only one that I still do to this day would be the tomato sandwiches… sorry radishes will not be a staple in my diet. You taught me that there is always room for dessert and vegetables are not necessary for life.
Most people associate happiness with a smile. Happiness is much more than a smile. You taught me that happiness can be shown in a hug after an exciting event, a hug that would be so tight that you thought your head by pop off. You were one of the happiest people that I know whether a smile was on his face or you were just hanging out with the family or watching your ghost busting shows on TV.
I knew that if I needed something any time of the day you would be on the other end of the phone ready to help. There are so many examples that I could list for this one that involves sports and family events. BUT the one that is the best is how reliable you were with the weather. I believe that I had my own personal weatherman a phone call away. You always called when there was a big snow storm on the way to make sure we were all safe. Once I moved to college, you would specifically look up the weather for my small college town to make sure that I would be safe in case I have to go somewhere.
Grandpa was the most family man that I have ever met. You wanted to know how everyone was and wanted to what you could be doing for everyone possible. When the kids of the family would turn 16, and we were getting our license, you would make us all sign a piece of paper attached to a news article talking about drunk driving. This is the perfect example of how important family was to him. I have heard hundreds of stories about growing up with you, as a dad, and this just reinforces the ideas of how much you cared. I believe that this is the lesson that has been passed along to everyone in our family as we begin our own families.
I find comfort in knowing that you are with us still and the lessons you taught us will forever impact our lives. I miss you more than you can imagine.