March is an interesting month in my family. It's the month with the most family birthdays - 10. It's the month when the weather pretends like it's going to get better and then it rains for 2 weeks straight and all you can say is "Well, at least it's not snowing..."
March is also the month when my grandfather passed away. While many of my friends were not lucky enough to grow up with grandparents, a signifcant part of my childhood involved living with and being raised by my grandparents. My grandfather was my dad. He was my chauffer to doctor's appointments, he videotaped field hockey games, he taught me how to drive, and he misty-eyed when I went to the prom. He even let my date drive his gigantic black lincoln.
Unfortunately, my grandfather did not make to it to see me get married or buy a house or settle into a satisfying career path. When he first passed away, it was so hard for me to understand what the world was supposed to be like without him. Even now, I find myself wanting to call him and ask for help. If I could talk to him now, I would ask him, what would you want people to know about you. Here is what I think he would want me to say:
1) My grandfather loved his girls: My grandmother, my mom, and my sister and me. We were light of his life and nothing made him made more proud than when we accomplished something, so he could brag about it.
2)My grandfather liked nice things but worked really hard for them. My granfather used to drive what my mom and I would call the mafia lincoln because everything was black: black leather, black cloth top, black paint, black interior, super dark tinted windows. When I was 7 I couldn't wait to grow up so I could have a lincoln continental of my own. My grandfather drove that car to the dry cleaners that he opened in a little area called Columbia, Maryland. He worked hard in that store and was sure to show me the value of ownership and hardwork.
3)He could fix anything. In this day and age, where we all sit at a computer and pretend like we know a lot about a lot of different things, my grandfather actually did. He replaced brakes on his car, replaced a toliet in one of the powder rooms in his house, ran his own business, owned rental properties, started a second business for residential lawncare, and fixed my grandmother's curling irons on more than one occasion.
4)He was a loving son. I had never seen my grandfather cry until the day his own father passed away. During the last few months of my great-grandfathers life, my grandfather was given power of attorney and took control of the family. He moved his father into our house with the help of a hospital bed, a part time nurse, and food delivery service. When the end came, my grandfather made arrangements and was the definition of class while dealing with all the necessities. During the finally hymn of the service, everyone went up to pay their final respects and I saw my grandfather break down. A mighty oak weeping and all I could do was cry with him.
My grandfather was a good man. While it's still difficult for me to understand the world without him and accept all the baggage that goes along with death of a loved one, I try to remember that he is somewhere better, not suffering, not sick, and hopefully eating fantastic meals, each of which end in a gigantic bowl of butter pecan ice cream.