I was fortunate enough to have grown up with all four of my grandparents.
We each had a unique bond, but I had an even closer bond with my paternal grandfather.
My Grandaddy Pat had dark, smooth skin. He used Noxzema every day and made sure he had cherry chapstick in his pocket to prevent chapped lips. He always had a toothpick in his mouth and he drank hot tea with lemon every morning.
He would always say:
“Don’t ever drink coffee, coffee makes you black”.
I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 8 years old and have never grew a shade darker, but I never questioned my grandfather’s theory. To this day, every morning when I take my first sip of coffee, I think of my Grandaddy Pat.
I enjoyed watching his every move.
As a toddler, I’d watch television with him. We would run errands and then come home and watch I Dream of Jeannie and I Love Lucy. This became the everyday ritual. I looked forward to spending time with him every day.
Grandaddy Pat was sharp and loved to dress. He was fly. He loved to link up with his buddies to play cards and have a good time.
As a child, my Dad struggled with addiction and could not provide or be there for my brother and I. My grandparents were always there for us, stepping in where my Dad lacked.
Every year, Grandaddy Pat would take us school shopping and then to Burger King. My brother and I looked forward to this and appreciated every minute.
I thought very highly of my grandfather and never wanted to disappoint him.
As a teenager, I became a raging, rebellious horror. I never really cared about anyone’s opinions of my horrible behavior, except his. I didn’t want him to know about the things I was into.
I was ashamed.
I had an abortion when I was 17 years old. At home, in the streets, I didn’t care about who knew I was pregnant. I was grown and out of control.
The first time I visited my grandparents after that procedure, I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I was embarrassed and it was awkward. I knew that he knew. I couldn’t even look him in the eye.
He didn’t mention my transgression the entire visit. When it was time to head home, he discreetly took me to the side and said “be careful out there and please don’t let this happen again”. I respected him for not judging me and I understood that he only wanted the best for me.
Soon after I graduated high school, I made the decision to move to DC to live with my aunt and be near my grandparents. I left Baltimore with hardly nothing. I hardly had any clothes, shoes, or even underwear. I was a mess.
My grandfather scooped me up and took me to Macy’s and purchased an entire wardrobe for me, including a business outfit for interviews. I still have that business outfit and I still wear it to interviews. I call it my lucky interview outfit.
During the time, I had no job, I would spend my entire days with him. We would run errands together and then come home and watch Judge Judy and the news.
Just like when I was a toddler!
I enjoyed being in his presence.
When I started working, Id stop by and visit my grandparent’s every evening. I would give Grandaddy Pat the 411 on that day’s events.
I didn’t feel anything when I found out that Grandaddy Pat was diagnosed with cancer. I was numb. Deep down, I prayed that he would be cured and that everything would be okay.
But that didn’t happen.
He progressively got worse and ended up spending his days in the hospital. I worked near the hospital and visited him every now and then.
That was the only time where I did not want to be in his presence.
I had a difficult time viewing him like that.
I limited my visits.
I was so selfish.
I was young and didn’t realize that visiting him in that state would’ve made his day.
I just couldn’t.
I knew that we were losing him and I did not want to face reality.
Something I struggle with to this day.
I was so hurt when he passed away.
It hurt SO badly.
He was the first person who was close to me to pass away.
I cried a lot.
I was irritable most days.
After we buried him, I also buried my mourning.
I put all of him to the back of my mind and went on with my life.
I stopped thinking about it.
The only time I reflected about him was on his birthday.
I’d say a quick “Happy Birthday” into the air and keep on moving.
Over the last few years, fond memories of him return.
I think more about him.
I look at his pictures, smile and reminisce.
It wasn’t until recently that I began referencing him and laughing about the past.
I show the kids his pictures and point out similar characteristics between them.
I bring him up in conversations with family and friends.
I dig deep and even think about his characteristics that I’ve inherited.
I love to dress up and be fly and I love hanging out with my friends.
I even picked up a jar of Noxzema and said to myself, “if Grandaddy Pat used Noxzema and his skin was so smooth, then my skin will be the same”.
Well unfortunately, I did not inherit that gene from him. I do not have clear, smooth skin and Noxzema does not work for me. LOL!!!
I miss my grandfather’s presence.
It’s been over 15 years and I’m finally mourning him.
I understand that in order to heal, I have to face reality.
Losing my grandfather really hurt me.
I avoided mourning my grandfather and that manifested into all sorts of dysfunctional behaviors.
I know Grandaddy Pat is watching over my family and I.
I know he is proud of me and the woman I’ve become.
I know he forgives me for not being there in his final weeks.
I know he would want me to mourn him, heal and move on.
Today is March 22.
Grandaddy Pat’s Birthday!!
Today, my family and I will celebrate and acknowledge him.
Wishing my grandfather a Happy Heavenly Birthday and looking forward to the day where we are together and watching I Love Lucy in the sky.
Rest Peacefully Grandaddy Pat!
I Love You!