He was gone before I was ever born. I was the first of his grandchildren and that means that he never knew he was going to be a grandfather of 7---and even a great grandfather some day in the 21st century. Strange, because I've always called him Grandpa George, but he never knew himself in that way.
I remember being a little girl, going through his wallet; inside there were photos, a little money which nobody cared to remove, just the normal odds and ends that somehow find their way into a person's wallet. To me they were little pieces of evidence that, when studied closely enough, would somehow add up to create a clear picture of this man with whom I share some of my genetic make-up.
My father tells stories about him. I know that he was funny, outgoing, social, a war hero, a farmer. I know that he was a father, a husband, a son, a brother. I know he gave CPR to a pig. From what I see in my own father I know that my grandfather was a man of substance and strength. I am fairly certain he had a quirky sense of humor (as evidenced by my father). I see echoes of him in his three children and it feels as though I am trying to get an idea of what the sun looks likes, squinting as I look all around at the light he created, but never actually being able to directly see him.
Recently my family was entrusted with some of his possessions. Eric (a curator) is helping the family to properly care for all of these items to ensure that future generations will know more of this man. When I went to look through all of the stuff which consisted of a lot of military items (one of my husband's areas of expertise) I was so excited that we will be able to learn more about him or at least a portion of his life.
Further investigation revealed that there were items that spanned much of his lifetime, including a photo of him in high school! I was surprised to find myself overwhelmed. I have grown up desperately wishing I had known this man, but I thought that I had come to terms with the fact that I was only meant to be a part of this man's legacy. Tears filled my eyes as I looked at these items, searching for answers once again. My mind spinning to give shape to this man who is my Grandpa George.
A pair of his glasses
Some of his keys. I have no idea what they open.
While I ran my hands over each object, looking for fingerprints, a strand of his hair (funny because he was not know for a full head of hair), anything to directly link me to this man I realized that I am the direct link, or one of them. No wonder that I have always felt so close to him, I am part of him and it was nice to be reminded of that. I wiped the tears from my eyes and quit being such a baby, feeling sad about all that I had missed, and instead I reminded myself of all that he gave me.