Dear Grandpa,

When I was younger, and people would bring up your name around me, I’d sometimes repeat it back to them mixing up “grandpa” with “uncle.” I suppose that’s what you were to me… a unknown part of the family that felt more like someone who could detatch easily, as opposed to a grandparent. Even when you lived in the same state, visits were still very sporadic. Now, all these years later, I don’t even know the man who some would call my grandfather, and as you are done fighting cancer once again, I wish I could be more heartbroken. But I don’t know you, but I love you. And it’s hard.

I don’t think you’ve really forgiven yourself for the past… leaving grandma with 4 young kids to raise on her own while you took off with broad after broad. I want you to accept the forgiveness that you’ve earned though. You are not the man you used to be, so you don’t have to remain distant any longer. Please come back to the family. Please forgive yourself, because most of us have already forgiven you. I know it’s not my place to forgive you for something you did to grandma and your kids, but I forgive you for what you did to yourself, and for what you did to your family after you realised how much you hurt them. 

You used to call me the terminator after I tackled that kid in preschool, a nickname that felt like the biggest sign of you being a grandparent to me. With that nickname, I felt like you actually knew me more than you actually did, that you wanted to know me more. But as I plead and begged for that nickname to go away, and you finally landed back on my name, I didn’t expect you to follow through with the name toss, but you did, and I felt conflicted. I didn’t know how much that stupid nickname meant to me, and our tie to each other, until it was absent from your voice over the phone. 

You’d come visit occasionally, and when that would happen, we’d have dinner as a family out at some restaurant we all enjoyed. I remember playing over at the neighbors house when you last came to visit our old blue home. You walked up their steps and I saw you, telling Julie I’d come play more tomorrow, and running to meet you with a hug. It was a simple encounter, but one I remember well. That night, you introduced me to a drink that possessed the same name as my favorite kid actress: Shirley Temple (the non-alcoholic version of course). We walked from dinner to the Family Christian Bookstore, and I showed you all my favorite veggietales videos. It was a simple night out with grandpa, and that’s why it was so special.

As Arizona called your name, we saw and heard from you less. You and I don’t really know each other anymore, and I’ve learned to accept that, but I want you to know that I will always love you. Family is family, no matter how distant, and even though I wouldn’t recognise you in a crowd, you will always be a part of the family. And that’s enough for me.

Much love,

Melissa

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