I have survived cancer, chemotherapy and an amputation. I know the loneliness of packing up to move to a new area knowing nobody in an attempt to restart my life. None of these experiences can touch the heartache that I felt 17 years ago this morning, when I heard that my Grandfather died.
It is hard to fathom that my Pop has been gone that long. In many ways it seems like only yesterday I was giving him a hug as I was returning to college. It also feels like a lifetime since I've seen his smile.
When I received my cancer diagnosis I was devastated, but not blindsided. I had the biopsy and I knew the statistics. I used the time after my biopsy to thoroughly research my options should the "worst case scenerio" arise. When the "worst case" materialized, I had a plan.
My decision to amputate was agonizing. I underwent years of painful surgeries in order to save my leg. I was able to ask questions and research my options. Again, I was afforded the luxury of preparation.
My treatment for cancer (chemotherapy and radiation) as well as my decision to amputate were, for all intents and purposes, under my control. Although my doctors performed the procedures, it was ultimately my choice to comply. Being an active participant in the treatments helped me deal with the physical and emotional ramifications.
I had no control when my Pop died. I never got to say good-bye. I wish that I had known I would never feel his warm hug although, if I had known, I'm not sure I would have let go.
I remember when I was young I asked my Pop if he would ever stop loving me. He told me that he would always love me, regardless of what I did. I asked him if he would love me if I stole a car. He said that yes, he would, but that he hopes I won't. He then proceeded to explain how to correctly cross the wires for the ignition so that we would do it correctly.
I am lucky that I had Pop in my life. So many of my friends had "formal" relationships with their grandparents. Although they mourned the passing of their grandparents, they freely admit that they are not necessarily missed. Their grandparents were figureheads at holiday celebrations but were not actively engaged in the lives.
My wish for Robby is that he is able to forge a special and unique relationship with each of his grandparents. I hope that he has special secrets and games that are only shared between the two of them. I want him to experience the kind of love that I felt from my Pop.
That's what I remember most about my Pop--his absolutely unconditional love for his family. I knew that, even if I disappointed him, his love and support wouldn't waiver. This world would be a better place if more people were like my Pop.