The greatest lessons are the kinds that are taught to us once, but we continue to learn from for the rest of our lives. My Grandfather had so many lessons to teach- so many words of wisdom and insightful parables, humbling stories and mantras to live by. But it wasn’t while I was growing up, as he taught me all he had to teach, that I really took from his knowledge. The years he was alive, though some of the greatest of my own, were not the ones during which I really learned what it was he was always trying to teach me. It’s been the past three years, since he’s been gone, that everything he’s instilled in my mind has started to come to light. I always feel like he wrote the book on everything- the value of a dollar, the benefits of hard work, and the ability to determine what you want, what you need, and what you should be doing in life. Determination, courage, compassion, humility. The ability to make something- sometimes everything- out of nothing. To take a past so dark or discouraging, and use it to mold the best future you can possibly dream of for yourself. All the lessons he used to teach me I’m finally truly understanding.
If you’ve ever lost someone monumental in your life,you tend to ask yourself “Am I living up to their expectations?” “Would they be proud of who I am today?” “Is this the life they’d have wanted me to live?” I’m beginning to realize that I am, in fact, living the life my grandfather wanted me to live- my own. He wanted me to make mistakes, so long as I learned from them. He wanted me to fall into ruts every now and then, and know what it feels like to have nothing at all, only so I can practice pulling myself out and gunning for everything I want. He wanted me to find myself, and take as much time as I need, so as to be sure I find my right self and not rush into something I’m not. These are all lessons he was able to teach while he was alive, but nothing I was able to start learning until he was gone. When he used to teach me math he would go over a few problems again and again, showing me over and over how he got the answer, then he would walk away and make me finish the rest on my own. He knew I would never truly learn if he was there telling me what to do the entire time.
I think the people who touch your life the most are the ones that leave you. You can never really tell the impact someone has made on your life until they’re no longer in it. I’ve lost a couple great people, neither of which lived to see me become an adult. Yet, somehow, they make up most of who I am today. Nothing will ever erase the love and compassion I was shown while they were alive, but it’s the years I’ve spent, and am going to spend, without them that are the true testament to their magnitude.
Three years ago, today- almost exactly to the hour- my Lolo left this world. Though the day commemorates a moment of my life where my heart was at its heaviest, I can’t help but feel an odd sense of cheerfulness amidst the solemnity. Putting his lessons into practice as I grow into a man is like figuring out the clues to a treasure hunt. Everything that I’ve carried with me for so many years is finally starting to make sense, and I feel like I’m finally headed to where I want to be in life. I have a long way to go, but I’ve had the best of teachers, and because of him I’m confident that I’m smart enough, or becoming smart enough, to find the right paths. Even if I take the wrong ones from time to time, my Lolo always had a knack for making his own shortcuts.
I know you can't read this, Lolo, but I love you, I miss you, and I thank you. For everything.