This year, the holidays will be different.
Six months ago, my Grandfather passed away. As I've written here before, Grandpa was an amazing man. Up until his dying day, he lived life to the fullest and taught us to do the same. He brought light and love into our lives, like no one had before. And most likely, in a way that no one ever will again.
We miss him everyday.
This time of year will be particularly hard. For Grandpa, the holidays were always a big deal. It was a time for family to gather and honor tradition and laugh (and play cards) and be grateful. All together. Plus, not only were we gathering for Christmas, but we also celebrated Grandpa's birthday, which was on December 24th. Of course, because every occasion was worthy of a celebration, we always had a separate party amidst all the other holiday gatherings, to mark his birthday. There simply couldn't be too many reasons to get together and be with family.
This year, Grandpa would have been 102 years old.
Of all the photos I've taken over the past year, this one is among the most precious to me.
I have this photo framed in my dining room. I certainly have many, many pictures of Grandpa. He was good like that. He understood what it meant to capture a moment. To share a story. To pass our memories on from one generation to the next. It was important to him, and so he indulged us whenever we asked for a photo. But this is one of my favorites.
This particular photo was taken not even two weeks before Grandpa passed away. After a few tough weeks health-wise, he was feeling good. So good in fact, that he invited the whole family down to the bakery - his favorite coffee shop - and bought everyone doughnuts and coffee....
It was a day I'll never forget.
Through the years, I bet we shared coffee with Grandpa a hundred times. So, in some ways, this was just another day. But, in so many other ways, this day was something much more. You could feel it. Family from near and far were seated around the table, with Grandpa seated at the head. Presiding over the occasion. We all knew this could be borrowed time. Turns out, it was.
Sometimes it's the everyday moments that we just can't take for granted. In the end, they may become the ones that are most precious.
That day at the bakery - - it was that kind of moment.
For awhile now, I've been thinking about what I wanted to write here about Grandpa. I was hoping that some sense of solace or consolation might appear, helping to guide me - and all of us - through the holiday without him. But I don't have it. There just aren't any words that can fill the gap left by a man who had a presence larger than life.
This year at the holidays, the joy will be accompanied by a deep sadness. A sadness we can't avoid. However, the more I think about it, the more I believe that the sadness is actually a gift, reminding us of how much Grandpa meant to us.
It's like I always tell my little ones.....If we didn't love someone so much, our hearts wouldn't hurt so much. Having Grandpa as a gift in our lives for so many precious years.....well, it is so worth whatever else must come with it.