You taught me how to swim (remember – with spoon hands, not fork hands!), you taught me to drive when I was ten years old, you taught me how to do long division that one day in the car when we drove out to the lake to go swimming. You taught me how to pay bills when I didn’t understand how that worked. You taught me how to fix cars. So many things I know because of you, but even more than that, you taught me how to think, how to solve a problem, long before my college professor swore that if we learned nothing else in his class that we learned how to think.
You taught me that it didn’t matter if we were “real” family. You and I knew we were real family because we chose each other, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought.
You were kind. And easy to talk to. People have asked me why I didn’t ask you for more details about things. I just let you tell me what you wanted to tell, just like you let me tell you what I wanted to tell. No more, no less.
I’m so glad the girls got to know you and spend time with you. They will have those memories forever, of a grandpa who put them first, had things planned for them, and had the best snacks ever.
I will never pick another tomato without thinking of you. Or see a hand-tied bouquet of flowers and not remember the bouquets you sent home that were tied with your orange ribbon.
When we’re gone, are we more than just the memories held closely by our loved ones? I know there are many memories you had that didn’t include us, but those experiences made you who you were. Just like the memories I have of you make me who I am.
You wouldn’t have known what to say if I would have said these words aloud to you, but I hope you can hear me now. This world was a better place with you in it, and I am a better person because you were here. And I miss you every day.