I've been thinking about you lately. My friend recently lost her dad, and as she was sharing her grief with me, I remembered how it was when we lost you. You would have been 81 last month.
I think you would have liked the young men your grandsons grew to be...although you would have said my youngest needs a haircut. You would enjoy him, though. His wit and light heart would amuse you. I wish you were here to advise the oldest one as he negotiates the tangle of military life. He might have listened to you?
Has it really been 16 years since you went away? Mom moved away from our small town; I think there were too many memories for her here. I still see some of your old friends, and they always have a kind word about you. When I have mint growing, I still crush a leaf between my hands and smell it...and think of you.
All the times you took me fishing (when you fished and I laid your nightcrawlers out so neatly to dry in the sun?), and the afternoon walks, the home bible study sessions and how wonderfully you read me stories (with voices and everything). I am a better mother because I had you for a Dad. Truthfully, I feel cheated for myself and my boys, that they didn't get to have you for a grandpa very long.
What would you have been like at 81? I think that time would barely have touched you. You would have still been trim and handsome, I'm sure. An afternoon walk, a good western movie, a cold beer, and nice heated discussion or two....you would have enjoyed all the same things as you always had. You would have been hot in your disagreement with my religious views, which I wouldn't discuss with you because of that. But you would have been proud of me, just the same. You would have loved to go fishing with your grandsons, and you would have been warning me, ever so subtly, to keep them out of trouble.
I can picture my youngest, almost 18, picking you up in his loud old truck for a day at the lake with Grandpa. When soldier boy is home on leave, he would be spending the day with you, and his girlfriend would visit ME in frustration. But she would understand, and secretly love it that you were such good friends. It's terribly sad that none of them ever got that chance.
I'm working hard, Dad. The sweet hubs (whom you liked so well) and I are doing great. I had a good example, thanks to you. And I miss you.