So much has happened in the year since you’ve gone to heaven. It is true what they say, that life goes on. You would know that best, having suffered so much loss over the 90 years you were lucky to have been granted for a life on earth. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to watch the carnage of war in German foxholes you dug over the course of your time as a soldier. I cannot even begin to fathom the pain you felt as you searched open ocean waters for your lost son. I know that cancer took from you physically, and Alzheimer’s robbed you of your mind, but you were still strong; you kept on surviving.
You had children, grandchildren, and many animals over the years who adored you. You watched football, went fishing, played golf, and wore a Stetson on horseback. You fought in a war, received medals, built sports empires, and created legacies that only a select few human beings can do. You were always a hero, to members of your community and loved ones in your home. You wrote stories.
Youth is wasted on the ignorant, and that could not be more true. Our quality years together were limited and few, and I was so young. But I can remember special moments on your boat, the Fishcatcher, as you taught me how to cast a line; or on the golf course as you taught me how to swing a club; or even in the kitchen as your let me fry the fish we caught…together. That much is saved. Those memories are safe. Ignorance allowed me reprieve from its folly.
I thought you should know that I plan on sharing your war stories. They are too good not to release into the world. Your insights and observations as a young man are fascinating. Though I didn’t know you then (was it 1944?), I can’t wait to bring you back to life on paper, or even on a screen. I have ideas, you know. I wish we could work on them together, but I guess I’ll have to find someone else I can trust with your words, with your story.
Now that you have left this world, one year ago, I hope that you have everything back that age and illness took from you. My wish is that you have found an ultimate peace, one that is everlasting and as strong as you. I know that I will always remember you as you once were. Your stories help paint a picture of a man’s man, one with high regard for honor and accomplishment. I only hope that I can one day meet someone as tough and honorable as you were. You have set the standard, Granddaddy.
As you said in one of your stories, “Goodbyes are goodbyes the world over,” and I agree. My goodbye to you was long, and in ways, I am grateful. I am lucky to have had each of those hard days, and I am lucky to still have a part of you.
I hope this letter finds you and others too. Not only do I pity those who never knew you in one of the many exiting, adventurous parts of your life, but if one person will appreciate his or her special time with someone else just a little more today, then we’ve done our job. It was your time, but I would have liked to have a little more with you.
Sending you love from back on earth,