This is going to be a little different than my usual posts . . .
Today would have been my grandfather's 81st birthday. My grandfather was definitely the patriarch of our family; the glue that brought us all together. He was one of three father figures in my life. When I was in elementary school, he was frequently the one picking us up in the afternoon, spending afternoons with us. We spent many evenings and Sundays at my grandparents house, having family dinners, spending summer days playing outside. I grew up with my grandparents being a huge part of my life. He’s been gone for 3 years now, and it feels like he’s been gone for a long time and yet that he was only here yesterday at the same time.
There are many things in my life that remind me of how much I miss my grandfather's presence in my life. There are, of course, the things that he was such a big part of that make me miss him. There were holidays, particularly Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, nature talks identifying the birds either by sight or sound and identifying the type of trees based on the shape of the leaves, and just Sunday afternoons talking about God and the Church, or Pennsylvania, where he grew up, or, maybe more than anything, how proud he was of all of us, his children and grandchildren.
But it's the things that he isn't here for that make me miss him even more. When I lost my grandfather, I was 6 months pregnant with Noah. I never in a million years thought that Pop would not get to hold Noah, to play with him and to adore him as I know he would have. I know he was just thrilled when we told him that we were having a boy, and that his name was going to be Noah Griffin (using my grandfather's last name for his middle name). I remember my grandmother telling me that she had bought me some maternity/nursing pajamas and matching pajamas for Noah, and they were in a box in the basement. Pop was like, "What is this box? We need to stop buying crap on tv." My grandmother told him what it was. His response? "Oh if it's for our Britty or Noah then that's ok." He loved Noah so much even before he was born. And Gavin? Oh my goodness, I can only imagine how big Pop’s smile would be watching him run around. Gavin brings joy to everyone he meets, and I know that Pop would have gotten a big kick out of Gavin’s big personality. Sure they probably have given him multiple heart attacks (they are crazy little boys after all), but their antics would have just thrilled him to no end.
And my photography . . . I don’t know if Pop would’ve been disappointed at first that I quit my secure, well paying government job. I think he would’ve understood that I wanted to stay home with my boys, to be there for them every day while they are so little. And I think that when he saw what I’ve started, the photos I take, the business that I’m building, that he would’ve been so proud. I don’t know if Pop and I ever had a conversation where he didn’t tell me how proud he was of me. It didn’t even have to be anything specific I had done or was doing, he was just immensely proud of me as a person. I truly feel, in my heart, that if he were here, he’d be telling me every day how much he enjoyed my photography and how proud he is of what I am doing. And I only hope that this doesn’t sound selfish or self centered of me, but I miss his voice telling me these things in every conversation that we had.
The part that still amazes me? My grandfather was an absolutely incredible man. He served in the United States Air Force for 24 years, including serving as a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance Technician and Flight Engineer of AC-47 aircraft in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in sustained aerial flight as a combat crew member in Southeast Asia, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for an attack on heavily armed hostile troops. And he never talked about it. I wasn’t even aware that he received these awards until after he was gone. He did amazing things, and yet, he never bragged about himself or his own accomplishments. He bragged about his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments. It is extremely unlikely that I will accomplish anything close to that in my life time. But I know that the things that I do accomplish matter, that they are important. And I know that Pop would believe that as well.
Pop, if you’re reading this from heaven, Happy Birthday! I miss you; we all miss you. I know that you are watching my little boys grow. I know that someday you will be so proud of them. I know that you are proud of me. I feel very fortunate for and cherish the 31 years that I had you in my life. We still feel your love here, and hope that you can feel ours and know that you are loved and remembered every single day. Love, Your Britty