My grandfather on my dad's side was a man of few words. He didn't quite know how to relate to a child - what to do, or what to say. But, I knew he loved me. I didn't really see him much, but my dad always went over to visit him, and he told me that every time he went, my grandpa, (I called him Pop-Pop), would ask a bunch of questions about me. Once, when I was about 11 or 12, my dad took me over for a couple hours, and left us alone with each other. I looked at him, he looked at me, I looked at him again. "Well, what now?", we both thought. "Would you like to watch tv?", he asked nervously. When I said, "Sure", he handed me his TV Guide. He had gone through the whole evening, half hour by half hour, and circled the shows that he thought I would like to watch! Even at that young age, I remember being touched by that small act of love. The biggest act of love, though, that I remember, is when I was older. When I was in high school, I was very interested in art, and one year for Christmas I drew or painted something for each member of my family. When I went to his home a little after Christmas, there was my drawing, proudly displayed in the middle of his living room...upside down! He didn't even know what the heck it was, but he was so proud of it!
We spent a lot of time with my grandparents on my mom's side, as I was growing up. My grandma was one awesome lady. She was real - a here I am, this is me, no bullshit type of person. (I'd like to think I inherited that trait from her). She was all about her family. She would do anything for us. We could do no wrong - she was always on our side. I swear I could have said, "I kicked a puppy", and grandma would have said, "Well, I'm sure he had it coming". She was always in the kitchen cooking, and would warn us all, "Eat up, cuz that's all yer gonna get!" Then, an hour later, she would be shoving more food at us. She was funny, without trying to be. We like to play games in my family, and one favorite was a card game, Pit. If you've never played, basically you shout out the number of cards you want to trade, "TWO! TWO! TWO!", trying to get all the same cards, without ending up holding the Bear or Bull cards. We would all be yelling, "TWO! TWO! THREE! THREE!", and grandma would yell, "BEAR! BEAR!" I knew that more than anything, she wanted me to be happy. She was so thrilled when I married Jim, because she liked him, which was no small thing because she was tough on anyone who wasn't family. After only about a year of Jim and I being married, she asked me, "Has everything checked out with you two?" "What do you mean, grandma?", I asked. "Well, WHY haven't you had a baby yet?", she exclaimed, perplexed. She was so anxious for another great grandchild! I wish she could have met Dylan. I wish I could see her face light up when he walked into the room, but I feel that she does see him, and she is smiling.
In July of 1998, my fiance, Doug, was killed when a car hit his motorcycle. What can I say about Doug? He was fun, friendly to everyone, and passionate about life and those he loved. He cherished me, and made me feel safe, beautiful, and sexy. He was like a child, experiencing life with such joy. I remember when we went to a wave pool once. It was his first time going to one. When the bell rang, and the waves started, he ran towards them, along with all the kids, riding wave after wave. He would get up after being slammed by a wave, and turn to grin at me. He was affectionate, and wore his heart on his sleeve. When we were out together, people either looked at us like, "Oh, that is so cute", or "Oh, God, get a room". When Doug asked a person "How are you?", he really cared what the answer was. He understood me - I mean really understood me. That is not to say that we didn't fight. I think because we were so much alike, emotionally, we fought quite often, usually about hurt feelings, but we resolved them with love and understanding.
When Doug died, I started going to a Catholic church near my home, to light a candle. I'm not even sure why. I'm not Catholic, and I've never done that before. But, there was something symbolic about lighting that candle. It said that his memory lived on. That I would never forget. At Christmas, I lit a candle and kept it burning all day, symbolizing his presence.
At Christmas time, I often think of the people who have meant so much to me. I think of all the people, and the memories I have of them at Christmas. I think of what they have added to my life, and how they have shaped me. Maybe this year, amidst the hustle and bustle of Christmas day, you will find three candles lit at my table. But, even if they aren't on the table, they are shining brightly always...in my heart.