Six Years

Six years ago we lost you. I miss you still, and can only hope that you’d still be proud of me today, and approve of the choices I’ve made with my life so far.

We would listen, everyday, at just about five thirty, for the distinct doorbell, race to be the first to open the door. I’d stand on the third or fourth stair and reach up on my tiptoes to help you take off your coat, feeling important.

I remember clinging onto your hand with my frilly little sandals and flowery dresses that matched both my sister and cousin, walking down cobbled streets packed with vendors hawking their wares, chickens squawking and running about, children kicking soccer balls. Even in the Caribbean heat you wore your meticulously tailored Panama suits. You were the model of a gentleman, always.

Your voice was strong and charismatic, delivering a speech or a campaign promise or a story, bringing alive the dark jungles of Africa and the steamy nights of Columbia. Sitting in the back of your car playing rhyming games, and later, when the diabetes was stealing your sight, gently informing you of when the traffic lights changed color.

Your voice was strong and steady, cutting through the crowd, encouraging me further, faster, around the track. Even when the disease had stolen your eyes and legs and insinuated itself into your heart, you were there for me. Every morning over the summer to train me, every race and meet during the school year to cheer me on.

There are so many things that I will never have a chance to tell you about. Going to Taiwan to study when I was 17. Going to your alma mater. Joining your fraternity, where you met your wife. Graduating with honors. My internship with your people. Moving to Beijing. For all the things still ahead of me in life, I will miss your presence and guidance.

I ran 5K today for the first time in several months and started to feel really good about my life. I still have moments where I feel like I’m aimless, or delaying something, feeling helpless and like I’m not accomplishing enough, but I know everything is going to work out. You instilled in me ambition, drive, honesty, class, eloquence, and an appreciation for education. I feel more connected to you when I run regularly, like I’m getting back on track and doing things right. In the next two years I am going to run a marathon, and it will partly be for you, because of you.

The Grumpiest Grandpa. So Well Loved.

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