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Carry on the memories

April 7th, 2011

Grandparents are the best.

They are always around to offer wise advice. They make the best food. They offer comfort when you need it.

My grandfather loved to have the family over every Sunday evening for dinner at his house. We cousins would usually be playing board games or card games (recently the favorite has been Apples to Apples), or doing last-minute homework. My parents, aunts, uncles and Grandpa would be talking politics at the dinner table.

The meal often ended with a smorgasbord of Grandpa’s favorite ice creams: mint chocolate chip, panda paws, moose tracks, peanut butter cup and butter pecan. Sometimes an aunt would bring over one of Grandpa’s other favorite desserts: either peach or pecan pie. On those nights, Grandpa would grin like a kid in a candy shop.

Every time one of us came to visit Grandpa, he was sure to offer us a root beer or ginger ale, and a cookie. If we turned down his offer, he insisted that he make us a sandwich.

Many years – and Sunday dinners later – I was leaving for college. While many of my peers were eager to go off to school, I was both excited and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. What if I hated it? Will I find friends? The future looked scary.

So when I needed a calm voice to tell me everything was going to be okay, I went to see Grandpa.

His answer to my nervousness was what he told all of his grandkids, “Keep up the good work.”

Make sure you do what you’re there for and “fill the space between your ears.”

Why do I bring up all of these stories? They help me remember my grandfather and all the great times our family spent with him.

Grandpa passed away in the middle of February. It was hard for me to grasp that the last time I saw him alive was over Christmas break. Looking at him in his casket – no matter how much I knew that his death was eventually going to come – was hard to bear.

If there’s any lesson I learned from the time I spent with my grandfather, it’s to cherish the moments you spend with your family. Remember every moment – from watching Notre Dame football and Indians games with Grandpa, to taking him to get a haircut – because it keeps the spirit of that individual alive. Let the lessons your grandparents give you influence how you live life, because they’ve probably been there and they’ve probably done that.

Whenever I see the Indians losing (like being down 14-0) or Notre Dame try to come back from a huge deficit, I’m going to ask Grandpa for a little divine intervention. Hopefully, Grandpa has enough pull with the big man upstairs.

When the going gets tough, the homework keeps piling up and the stress increases, I just think of what kind of encouragement Grandpa would give me.

Just “keep up the good work.”