Today would have been my grandfather's 93rd birthday. He's been gone for nearly 18 years and I suppose I could say that I always think of him on February 28th. But the truth is that I think of him nearly every day.
My parents divorced before I was 2 and mom and I lived with my grandparents for a long time afterwards. So Grandpa was by far the single biggest male influence in my life. We had a very special bond and he always made me feel I was his favorite.
On his birthday, I'm reminded of how many ways he influenced my life and the things I appreciate. He was the one who took me to amusement parks and shared his love of music. He taught me to use a camera, the value of a dollar and how to be grateful for the things you have.
He was one of 11 children and worked hard his whole life. First to help support his parents and siblings in hard times, then to support a wife and 2 daughters. He never owned a house and even in his retirement, got a job working the early shift at McDonald's because after a lifetime of getting up before dawn, he figured he might as well do something.
Grandpa was the first one people called in times of crisis. And even when it meant personal sacrifice, he was quick to give you the shirt off his back.
Grandpa could fix anything. A skill my husband also possesses and it breaks my heart that Grandpa died before they had a chance to meet. I know they would've been great pals.
I miss him every day. Today more than most. It saddens me that he wasn't here to see me get married, to meet my husband, to see the woman I've become and see the birth of his great granddaughters.
I wonder all the time what he'd think of the world today.
What would he think of the choices I've made?
Would he be proud?
I hope so.
Happy Birthday, Grandpa.