Tuesday would have been my dad’s 62nd birthday. It was his mother’s birthday too – my Grandma Dottie. I had not had much time to reflect on it all day, but after Mason and I got Cooper to bed, we grabbed a picture of “Grandpa John” and Grandma Dottie from the shelves in the living room and sang them Happy Birthday. Mason got into it despite the confusion of singing a song to people she has only ever seen in pictures.
Grandma Dottie and my dad back in the day
The picture of my Grandma Dottie also included me, my sister, and my grandpa. It was from my college graduation, and Mason asked where she, Daddy, and Cooper were in the picture. Cute, right? I told her she was not even a blip in my mind at that point. She was asking so many questions about the pictures that I decided to go the extra step… It was time for Mason to finally watch my dad’s video.
(Back story – During our stint in Leesburg and at Loudoun County High School, we had been lucky enough to know Bob Updegrove, an amazing photographer and slide show creator. He had done all the high school slide shows, and our family had greatly enjoyed each and every one of them. So it only seemed right to ask Bob to make a slide show of my dad after he passed away. We collected photos, and he created a wonderful video that we all treasure to this day.)
As the video started, I told Mason why we had made it and what she was about to see. I think she was most interested in seeing Mommy as a little girl. I would describe each picture and often why it was special. I’ll admit, I had wanted to watch the video myself. But to share it with Mason made it more precious to me. I want Mason to know her grandfather, even if he can’t be here in person. I want her to understand how much he was loved and how much he is missed.
On the other hand, watching the video with Mason only made the absence of my dad even more heartbreaking. Here is this vibrant little girl only getting to see static pictures of her vibrant grandfather that she will never get to meet. I know my dad is watching down on us and can see how special Mason and Cooper each are, but it’s not the same. He should be here – teaching Mason how to play soccer, tickling Cooper to get that guttoral laugh, hanging out with our wonderful family! He is here in spirit, though.
At the end of the video, I asked Mason if she liked seeing all the pictures of Grandpa John. She said, “Maybe we can go to his house sometime.” I explained that he was no longer with us because he had died. She said, “Like the spider in Charlotte’s Web, Mommy.” (Gosh, this girl is incredible!) Yes, but he is always looking down on us – laughing with us, crying with us, and just loving us.
Love you, Dad