I spent a lot of time with my grandparents in the last couple weeks of my grandfather’s life. On one particular evening, my mom had taken my grandma to the dining room in the senior living facility where they had moved five months prior and I had stayed in the apartment with my grandpa to help him with his dinner.
Abandoning my crossword puzzle, I stuck the pencil in my ear with the tip facing forward and pulled my chair over to the recliner. My grandfather wasn’t talking much by this point but as we slowly began this new dinner ritual, he looked up at me, at the pencil in my ear, and back at me.
“Get that thing away from your eye.” He slowly gestured at the pencil. “It’s sharp.”
That was my grandfather. A caretaker through and through. A teacher to the core. A mentor no matter what.
He passed away on December 31, 2018, just two months and change short of his 98th birthday. Early each March, I lean into his memory and feel immense gratitude for his influence. This year, he would have been turning 100.
My grandfather prioritized family and community and service and, to put it simply, he made me a better person.
We should all be so lucky to love people like that.