It wasn't from anything he said, but because I had this incredibly strong feeling of de ja vu that took me back to my childhood days, sitting in the Lincoln with my Grandfather, who listened to nothing but talk radio and especially loved Rush. I remember thinking back then how awful that man's voice was and couldn't believe my Gramps actually enjoyed listening to him! Where was the music for God's sake???
But here I am, twenty-ish years later, in my own car and listening to Rush of my own free will. As silly as it may sound, I felt my Gramps' presence more that day than I had in a long time since the nearly ten years since his passing. I will never forget that moment that caught me so off guard ... and at the same time put the biggest smile on my face.
Today would have been my Gramps' 84th birthday, and next month will mark 10 years since he's been gone. 10 years. Wow. It doesn't seem like that long, but then again it does. There are so many memories, but also so many things he wasn't there for. I wish he could have seen me graduate from college, finish graduate school, get married. And those are just the big moments. There are so many little moments, debates and discussions I wish we could have shared in the last 10 years.
My Gramps was a special man. He wasn't perfect by any means and would be the first to admit it. I am equally as headstrong as he was, which made us butt heads from time to time as I was growing up. I will never forget the time I called him to pick me up from high school because someone else in my class made a comment about there not being any bus service that day. I had been dropped off to school in the morning and was planning on taking the bus home, so I needed an alternate way home. In turned out the girl who had told me about there not being bus service was wrong. So as my Gramps picked me up, he waited in line behind the buses I told him weren't running that day.
Well, he was a little aggravated. Not that he had to pick me up. He didn't mind that at all. He was more disappointed that I took one person's word about the buses not running instead of going to a reliable source myself. I'm sure to him, it was more of a teaching opportunity for my future, which makes total sense to adult Caroline. However, teenage Caroline didn't take his "teaching opportunity" very well, and the whole situation blew up. I can't remember all of the details but I know my feelings were hurt, and I think it was about a week or so before there was any communication between us.
Gramps was the first one to "speak." He returned back to me a magnet I had given him years earlier for his refrigerator that read: "If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge to put up with you." With the magnet, he included a $10 bill.
He may have been headstrong, but he learned and eventually mastered the power of love and forgiveness. I know there are a few things in his life that he would have told you he wished he could have done differently, but when it counted, I couldn't name a man who loved his family more, who gave of himself more, and who set a better example for his children and grandchildren.
There is so much more I could say, but today, I'll simply wish him a Happy Birthday in Heaven. And say thank you for every piece of yourself that you left in me. I love you and hope I continue to live my life in a way that makes you proud.
I think I'll even listen to Rush today.