February 24, 2014

Dear Grandpa: What I Know about Living from What you Gave. ~ Lizzie Kramer


Impermanence and Imprint in love and life.

My grandfather, an avid golfer and the most stylish man I knew, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer after going to the hospital for a cold four weeks ago.

His memorial service was this Tuesday.

I wrote this letter to him and read it to him while he was in the hospice facility; it was also what I read at the service.

It is based off of the impermanence and imprint of life.


Dear Grandpa,

I am young and you are old.

I know that now, as you march on into death, when you look at me you see the naivety of youth. The fleeting moments that have passed by long ago. You see, with worry, the mistakes I will inevitably make. You fear the worst, but hope for the best. You have faith, but it is easily shaken. You have seen far more of the world than I have, and far more of the crueler world than I have.

You are scared—scared for me, and scared for you.

You are scared for me, my future, my decisions. Worried that because you cannot be there to ease me back onto my path, that I may fall off permanently. Worried that mistakes I make will be irreversible. Worried that I will throw away the gifts that I have been given, tossing in the towel for been there’s and done that’s and I wishes and mistaken love. Worried that I won’t live up to my potential.

You are scared for you, your next journey, your next phase. What greets you at the door to the “next,” whatever the next may be. Worried that there isn’t a God; worried that there is a God; worried that God hates you or loves you or is indifferent to you. Worried that eternity is forever, or too short. Worried that eternity lacks the people you love and have loved, and worried that it is filled with people that you do not want to see. Worried that it is too lonely, or too crowded, or that the food is bad and the TV channels there suck and there’s no football to watch or golf to play. Worried that you will be in more pain then then you will be now.

You were once young and I will one day be old.

I will one day hold the same questions that you hold, questions for the lives of my grandchildren, questions about the end of my life. I will stare into the abyss, and it will stare right back at me, offering little to comfort me, offering no answers to my questions.

I do not offer answers to your questions. I do not know the future, I do not know what’s next. I do not know what my life holds or what your passage brings. But I do know that death is a part of life. It is a part of nature, cyclical, passing, flowing, changing. Trees unleash foliage then grow grey, flowers bloom then wilt, rivers flood then dry out. Day turns to night, and night to day. Nothing is permanent, no season, no flower, no flood, no day. But each leaf of each tree gives nutrients back to the earth, each petal of each flower nurtures a hungry bee, each flood of every river erodes the soil and forms rock. Each day leaves a memory.

Although it is nature’s way to change continuously, everything has an imprint.

The imprint you have had on me is love. Although I cannot stop you from leaving this Earth, although I cannot guarantee that I will see you again, I can say that I hold the imprint of your love—as I hope you do mine—and that this imprint will forever have shaped me. It has become a word in the story of my life, and once stories are done being written, they cannot be changed.

I wish you only the best on your journey, as you do mine.

And just as you have faith in mine, I have faith in yours.

As my love will have impacted your story that has already been written, your love has impacted the parts of mine that have, and have not yet, been penned.

I love you.

And I hear that the golf greens are better for pronating in heaven, anyway.



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Editorial Assistant: Edith Lazenby/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons 

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Lizzie Kramer