Today, marks the sixth anniversary of my grandfather’s death. For those who don’t know, my grandfather served as my father figure for my childhood. So, on every anniversary and every birthday, I want to take a moment to talk about the profound influence that he had on me.
My grandfather passed away on Oct. 12, 2011 after a five year battle of Alzheimer’s. If I could take away anything about his fight was his continuous strength. I have no memory of him complaining, nor do I remember him not being happy. This actually was fitting — his name was Sonny.
My grandfather was one of the most beautiful human beings that I ever had the privilege of knowing. A tribute fitting for him would span the length of novels, but I hope that this suffices.
I’d like to think that I get my sense of humor from my grandfather. I don’t have a single memory of him being grumpy or bitter — he was always laughing and smiling. He made everyone laugh. He always looked to the bright side to things, no matter how dismal they were. He would always say these one liners. “Take it from a dummy” was one of them.
With that being said, my relationship with my grandfather was one of the most special ones that I will have in my entire life. Sorry future husband. I grew up without a father, but I never felt the weight of that absence because of my grandfather. He treated me like I was his own child, spoiling me with anything I could have wanted materialistically and always giving me his undivided attention. He took me everywhere — from the Essex Steam Train and to the Arcade in Mohegan Sun. I never once doubted that I was loved, because he was there for me in ways my own father would not be.
My grandfather’s generosity spanned to his entire family — my mother, my uncle, my cousins and my grandmother. When he loved, he loved wholeheartedly. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and was always there for loved ones during both highs and lows.
I remember him being at every school concert that he could attend, and when I had both of my childhood surgeries, he was there to take care of me. I remember once when I was seven, and I had fainted. My mom had to rush me to the emergency room with the help of both of my grandparents who stayed with her throughout the night.
Saying goodbye to my grandfather was single handedly one of the hardest things that I had to do. For months, it felt like there was something that was missing in my life. My grandfather died when I was a senior in high school, and I kept on feeling the weight of his absence during the big events such as prom and graduation. Even nowadays as I do things, I still feel it as I wonder what would this event be like if my grandfather were here?
As I progress and grow through life, my grandfather continues to my inspiration. He is the reason why I devote a thousand percent into everything I do, and to continuously work hard. He is a source of my optimism as I remember his fight with Alzheimer’s, and his never waning jokes. Even as I write this now, I could picture him sitting on his chair, and smiling.
My grandfather’s absence is a heavy weight that takes its toll on my family. I miss him every day. Moving forward, I continue to wonder what things would be like if he were here today. I wonder if he was proud of me as I graduated college and took the oath of office as Arts Commissioner yesterday. I wonder what Christmas would be like if he were still here. I wonder what he would have done when I got my car — I personally think that he would have yelled at me for never keeping it clean.
As I remember my grandfather (and his legacy), I want him to know that I love him and he will always and forever serve as my inspiration. Thank you Grandpa for your existence. I’ll never stop aiming to make you proud. I love you.