Christmas time is always busy for us, this year was no exception. After working a full week, we ran head first into the holidays. Christmas eve morning we hosted my parents for our yearly swap and then off to my wife's family's yearly exchange. Then on Christmas up early with the kids to see what Santa brought and then off to my Grandmother's to tie off the official events.
It was very odd for me this year as we assembled around the table at my Grandmother's. Each year we all do the "Where am I sitting" shuffle. We all wander around the table reading the name tags that are near each seat. This year I found mine at the head of the table - where my Grandfather used to sit.
I stood there, holding onto the empty chair for a long time. He has sat in that chair at this table my entire life. Last year my Uncle took the seat and this year me. I was very honored, but I could not bring myself to sit down. Sitting down would mean admitting he was gone. Up until then I guess I harbored some hope that he was just away and was going to come back. I sat down, but I've felt off ever since.
It's been a year now and all of my feelings finally erupted. Through my tears I could hear him talking, I could remember flying with him, having lunch at various airports, visiting him at his Cape Cod house and spending summers with him. How he was always there for my Graduations, school events, and how he couldn't bring himself to hold my first child ("too small").
In those moments I remembered a Great man from my childhood whom I feel I barely knew. When he was at his best, I was playing with Star Wars figures and as he retired I was getting married. He was both strong and caring in a way that I've not seen in many people and he changed my life in ways I am just starting to understand.
I still don't feel worthy of the honor my Grandmother gave me. As I sit here writing this, wiping tears on my sleeve, my son comes over to see what I'm playing. When he sees that it's not a game he asks what I'm writing; "Memories of Papa". He goes back to what he was doing and I'm left realizing that the cycle continues and that at some point I may be that Grandfather.
I'll do my best Grandpa, but I still miss having you around.