The lovely man pictured above, with that smile that just makes you feel warm and happy, and those soft eyes that make you feel like the most loved, beautiful thing in the world, is my Grandpa Wally. He was an amazing man, with a life story one could listen to for ages. He was an inspiration, and one of my best friends.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, wishing I could sit beside him again, listen to his relaxing, gravelly voice as he talked about horses, faith, and any number of other things. Especially now, with the Kentucky Derby coming up on us and the big prep races underway, I long for the days where we would go down to the local pub and watch the races together, or sit around his glass table for hours and hours with the Daily Post Parade splayed out in front of us as we handicapped the races and debated bloodlines and which horse was really the best – Man O’ War or Secretariat. He taught me many a lesson, and even our discussions on horses held hard-learned truths to them.
I miss sitting in his dining room with my parents, with a box of pizza and plenty of coca-cola, chatting away as we played spades. I still remember when he taught me to count cards. Once I got the hang of it, he and I would team up against my parents, playing them like a harp, always knowing what they had and exactly how to convince them they were winning only to crush them in the end.
I miss his hugs, so warm, soft, and tight, with a gentle smokey scent to them. They made you feel so at home, so loved. They made you feel like you were made of glass, and he kept you as his most prized possession.
I would give just about anything to hear his hearty laugh once more, or watch him as his scarred and wrinkled hands would turn a pepsi can over slowly three times in a row so that it wouldn’t fizz when it opened, or watch his eyes brighten with mischief as he made witty remarks just to make me laugh.
It’s been 6 long years, Grandpa. It’s so hard to believe. I love you so, and always will. You’re always on my mind and in my heart, and I know you’re up there with that amazing smile of yours, waiting to welcome me at the gates of heaven and bring me back into your strong arms.
(Note: This was supposed to go live yesterday, 3-15-13, but was delayed due to computer issues.)