Dear Grandpa,

It’s Father’s Day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to write you a letter. Spending a couple of weeks every summer with you and grandma taught me a lot of about life, love, and people.

I have never been very tough, at least, not emotionally tough, but spending time with you was emotional boot camp. You were the quintessential grumpy old man getting angry at the drop of a hat. Eventually, I realized it wasn’t about grandma or me. Really, it was whether your blood sugar was low or whether you had exhausted yourself walking around the mall with me. I think of you often when I meet some other sour face. What’s underneath?

I still laugh a little when I think of Shoney’s or drive by a Waffle House. We ate at the same restaurant every day all summer long and the waitresses loved you. It was amazing the names you knew, the faces you remembered, and the bottoms you smacked. I have never seen anyone send food back as often. But you had charisma: you complained and no one minded. I’ll never be THAT charming, but watching you taught me to speak up for myself.

I loved you more than anything. I’m sad you never got to meet the little people who usurped your place in my heart. Surprise! There are 3 of them! And (surprise) my oldest is just like me—tender on the inside, softhearted and emotional… and so stubborn. Do you think they look like me? My baby girl just arrived last November. I know you’d spoil her, now, instead of me.

It feels good to remember you. Can you tell that I’m crying now, more than 10 years later? I’m so grateful for grandma with her camera capturing the moments of us together. The Braves’ Games are my favorites, especially now that my son is in T-ball. Baseball always reminds me of my last memory of you—me sitting next to you, you lying in your bed; both of us watching the ball game on tv. We didn’t talk. We just enjoyed being together. One last lesson before you left.

Thanks, Grandpa. Happy Father’s Day.

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