For my grandfather

I figured, wherever you are, there could one day be Internet there. Technology is impacting the world in incredible ways. Over the long-term, who knows what is possible? In an effort to hedge my bets (you know me- the rational optimist, the inherent bet-hedger), I figured I’d send you this note.

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This morning I found out that my grandfather (Pappy) passed on, and I feel sadness. I feel sadness for him, but what’s more, is that I feel sadness for my grandmother. It will be incredibly important for her children and peers to support her through this difficult time. With death, it either brings people together or it pushes them apart. If given the chance, I would pound the table with my fist, in an effort to stress the importance of letting the passing of my grandfather bring us together.

Since moving to the Arctic, Pappy and I had become closer. He would call me every few weeks and we’d just shoot the shit. How lucky am I?

This seems to be a trend, there are some individuals whom, despite our vast geographic distance, through the act of moving away we’ve cultivated a stronger relationship. This was the case with Pappy and I.

As a thought exercise, I wanted to write down some of the good stuff that my grandfather was lucky enough to experience in his life. Note: this is only my perspective; there could be significant events (good or bad) that I am missing. I do not know the whole story; I am only pulling information from what I have learned in my life. The purpose of this thought exercise is to help me view his life with a sense of gratitude and positivity, rather than focusing on his recent death in a negative way…

·      You are born healthy, and you grow up in a time and country that is filled with possibility.

·      You marry the woman of your dreams.

·      You have 4 beautiful and healthy children.

·      While working a fulltime job, and raising a family, you go back to school to complete a business degree (during the evenings and weekends).

·      You buy a country home, on a large plot of land, to raise your children surrounded by nature and animals.

·      Professionally, you become the CEO of a large privately held company.

·      Your kids have kids. You and your wife become loving and supportive grandparents.

·      Your grandchildren have children. You become a great grandfather and you get see the growth of your multiple generational family.

·      You retire.

·      Together with your wife, you build a new small farm to have a few horses.

·      In a tragic accident, you become trapped under the idling machine for hours. Your wife finds you. You are in very rough shape; a disastrous accident like this should have killed you.  But this does not kill you; you manage to carry on despite a laundry list of shattered bones, and reconstructive surgeries. Turns out you still have many healthy years ahead of you.

·      You are approaching the celebration of 60 years with your loving wife. Together, you have been lucky enough to build a loud, passionate, healthy family. What a life!

·      At 81, you celebrate Christmas and your birthday with over 40 family members.

·      Less than a month later, you have a heart attack 2:30am in your country home, surrounded by your loving wife, and your loyal dog. The ambulance comes, but unfortunately it is too late.

·      After hearing the news, your children come to your country house; they drive your wife to the hospital, following the ambulance. After you have passed, your wife says her final goodbyes to you in the hospital bed. Your body is lifeless. Together you have achieved and experienced an incredible life. It is hard to imagine a deeper personal connection, than the two of you have displayed.

·      Three hours later and thousands of kilometers away, your son-in-law sends a text message to your grandson who lives in the Arctic. It says, “Pappy has passed away this morning, we are with your grandmother now.” Your grandson, reads the message, he doesn’t know what to say… He cries. Your grandson calls his mother (your eldest child). Together, they cry over the phone.

·      In an effort to make sense of all of this, your grandson completes this thought exercise by typing on his computer. Writing appears, for him, to be a coping mechanism.

·      When your grandson thinks of you, he remembers you as a humorous and intelligent man. Additionally, he wishes to one-day experience a life much like your own. In particular, he hopes to find a loving partner to build a life with (60 years! Wow!). He wants a relationship just like you and your wife shared. He wants to have a large family and live surrounded by nature, just like you.

·      Congratulations, you have had an incredible life. You have been very lucky. You have experienced and achieved things that others can only can dream of having.

Thank you, Pappy. For me, it hasn’t set in that you are gone. On weekday evenings, I expect the phone to ring, with your voice greeting me on the other side of the line. I will miss you.

I am trying to think about what I can say, to really articulate how I feel…

When I grow up, I want to be just like you.