I miss my grandfather. He came up in a convo on Twitter completely out of the blue. I remember many things about him, and my time with him, but three stand out:
1.) Him coming to my swim meet. This wouldn’t necessarily be weird, except the least formal he ever got in public was maybe unbuttoning the top button on his suit and loosening his tie. Surrounded by a bunch of adults in sweatsuits and kids running around in speedos, it was an interesting image.
2.) The trip he took me and Kari-Michael Helava on to Finland to visit our relatives and see where that side of our family came from. It was incredibly special to spend time with just him and my cousin, and while I don’t remember *most* of the details of the trip, I remember one night at dinner, he was playing with the breadcrumbs that were left on his plate while we were waiting for the rest of the meal, and I thought it would be funny to shout “DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!” the way an adult would have said to a kid (like me) at the time. He laughed, and laughed and laughed. I still have the laplander hat I got on that trip. One of these days, J&K will wear it, and wonder where I got such a weird hat.
3.) One of his visits, just before he & my grandmother left, he sat down on my bed and talked to me. He talked about how I had opportunity to *do* something, and to make a difference in the world, and that it was my responsibility to do so in a positive way. I wish I remembered his exact words, but all I remember is the tone and the reverence I had for him. It took another decade and then some before I felt like I was in a position, or had the opportunity to put his words into action, but I think over the last few years, and now with my kids, that moment is always something that’s in my mind, and something that nudges me, I believe, in the right direction, even when it’s not the easy direction to go.