Happy Birthday in Heaven Gandaddy!

It was my grandfather’s birthday on Sunday… but snow days means getting this post up today.

In the big extended family on my Mom’s side there are a lot of personalities… BIG personalities. When the gang all comes together the bigger personalities usually get the floor…. one being my Ganmommy. She was louder… active… liked to be playful…. how many grandmothers do you know that do layups in the middle of her grandkids basketball games when it’s half time?? Yup, she is a hoot and there are so many funny things and important lessons she has given me… but one thing that struck me is that the grandkids would flock to her, but not always to my Gandaddy.

He was more patient, quiet and in tune with his creative side, good cook, and quite the story teller. A fascinating person, but not necessarily to younger kiddos. At about 9 or 10 I decided that while Ganmommy was busy being the goofball with my cousins and siblings, I would make sure to carve out a little visit with Gandaddy each time we saw them. It was a decision that had the sort of impact on my life that I am surprised I made the it at only 9 years old. My visits with him showed me the power in finding the quiet space and person in the room, gave me the lesson that stories are how families go on and on, the realization that a gift of time to a child is more valuable than anything else, and that a soft approach to life and one another is a lost art.

My Gandaddy passed away the summer I was 17. Thinking now, for alllll the many memories, wonderful stories and lessons he shared with me – it is amazing how much was packed in during just a few years . But the part I remember the most…. the thing I still carry around and think of constantly is how much he believed in me. It didn’t matter what I choose to spend my time on ( even when I quit panio … one of his favorite things I did, he still was proud), how much time I would have to give him, or how successful I was at school or if I excelled at my extra circular activities or not, he made me feel on top of the world just by being me. Time and support are free gifts but have such a huge impact.

My Gandaddy was a child psychiatrist, so he was particularly skilled to help the kids feel supported. But it was also the way in which he lived his life – celebrating the things that made him unique.He loved to cook, decorate for holidays, and appreciated details (like designing his wedding band)- all of these seen as women’s role in those days. The combination was powerful – a champion and a leader in walking to the beat of his own drum. Yet… he did it all in his own quiet way.

This is a picture one of my grandfather’s patients gave him and when they cleaned out my grandparent’s house

We live in society that is very big on celebrating differences… encourages being loud and proud… and champions not caring what others thing… yet we want our uniqueness on display and honored… begging the questions: is it about being ourselves… or being celebrated? What about being ourselves because that is who we are? Not for any other reason but we are being who God made us? That is who my grandfather was and I have been thinking a lot about how that is more of how I would like to be.

The other reason he has come to mind so often is his profession. Mental health is such a huge conversation right and now and in so many ways folks are struggling. I think of all the many people he helped over his years… the lives he improved. Gandaddy spent his life being himself and his career helping others to do the same. Popping online you are almost guaranteed to find something on mental health or self care or coping… what a unique time that as a society we collectively recognize the importance of mental health. This makes me appreciate what my Gandaddy contributed to this world.

In this strange time, you are in my thoughts so often Gandaddy and I am grateful the example you gave to me on so many areas of life. Wishing you a happy birthday in Heaven!

Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!
Jackie


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