It is Grandparents’ Day. We have done this a dozen times as we showed up to praise and support our five grandchildren. This is for our youngest—-a 6th grader—only 2 more of these to celebrate.
Today I walked in alone. In the past as I entered this room, you were by my side tenderly holding my hand. I felt the tears behind my eyes taking on a life of their own and they rolled down my cheeks in spite of how hard I attempted to hold them back. Purposefully, I stood on the perimeter of the room symbolizing my feelings of being an observer on the outside.
I watched them as they walked in. Grandmas and Grandpas. Years of history between them. Habits and behaviors so natural that they were never even observed. Their normal. The life dances that they did to survive the years of marriage, happy or not, it is how they were. Some walked in together. A few of the women held on to their husband’s arm. Some of the men walked six feet ahead of their wives with their eyes fixed on the tables filled with cookies and coffee. A rare few of the men walked along the side of their wives with their hand gently resting on her back escourting her into the gathering room. Some men pointed to a chair to silently command their wife to sit. A few men located a chair, pulled it out and offered their wife a seat. The rare few gathered a plate of cookies to share as he juggled 2 hot cups of coffee before offering them to his wife. None of them observed their actions. It was automatic. I saw them all. I sensed them all. I read their relationships by their movements in this crowded and noisy room and the tears I could not hold back poured down my face.
As much as I wanted to be there, I hated being there without you. To be honest, I hate doing anything without you. I feel isolated and out of step. I feel like I need to be situated on the perimeter of all situations as I feel like the odd man out without you next to me. You would have been the husband who gently guided me into the room. You never walked ahead of me in a symbolic way of leaving me behind or making me feel like I was a second thought. You would have found me a chair and in spite of your health concerns, you would have made certain that I sat and was comfortable. You would have gathered the cookies and hot coffee fixed exactly like I prefer it. You would have placed all of this on the table in front of me and probably kissed me on my head. If you did not say it out loud, your eyes said to me “I love you” and the way you took care of me demonstrated it every moment of every day.
Thinking back on us over our years together, I realize that in our entire relationship you never even once raised your voice to me. Through the frustrations and crisis of running our business to the challenges of raising a family, you treated me with honor and respect. When I looked at you, I always felt valued. I must admit that I miss this.
I left this gathering with our granddaughter by my side. She had written a sweet little card about what kind of grandmother she wants to be one day. She described what she experienced when she came to our house, and I felt her love for you along with the hole that never can be filled because of your absence.
Know, my love, that you are missed every moment of every day. You would be proud of our granddaughters and the young women they are becoming. Much of that is because of you.