Tonight I talked to my mom for a while. She spent the day going through a filing cabinet of her father's papers deciding what to keep and what to toss. She found so many of the talks he had written and given and letters from him to friends of his that were so beautifully written they brought her to tears. She found important papers like marriage certificates and letters he received that meant enough to him to keep.
Our conversation has had me thinking about my grandfather tonight. I had always admired him as a kid because he served as a U.S. Senator during WWII. But the things my mother shared with me tonight - the things he felt were important enough for him to keep till his dying day - were not letters from the President or invitations to the White House. They were more personal- church talks and eulogies, letters to friends.
My grandparents lived in town. I was always really close with my grandmother. She oozed love. But Grandad was intimidating to me as a little kid and I never felt a real closeness to him even as I grew older. I mean I loved him and I respected him tremendously. But he wasn't the kind of grandpa I went to talk to about how I was feeling or anything.
Talking to my mom tonight has given me a bit of a new perspective on who my grandfather really was and what was really important to him. And in learning more about him, I feel as though I am learning more about myself and who I ought to be. I find it amazing how learning more about our ancestors can really help us know ourselves better.
I feel blessed to have a bit of him living in me, not because of any job he had or title he held, but because of his firmness of faith, his charitable heart, and his ability to write his feelings. Even though he lived until I was 24 and I knew him all those 24 years, I feel in some ways that I have come to know him better in the years since his death, particularly the past 3 years than I ever did while he was alive. I have felt his love and support more. Perhaps because I have needed it more.
It is a sweet note in a bitter trial to grow closer to and know more fully those who watch over you from heaven.