the only amazing man i’ve ever met

the only amazing man ive ever met

My circle has always been small. In young age I’ve always been attracted to the quiet; more specifically to quiet people. I would cry when with my dad, my uncles, most of my aunts, my dad’s dad. I would tolerate others, but I loved my Mom, my Grammie and my Gramps. And to this day they are still my favorite people. Especially my Gramps. 

Regret is stronger than gratitude. We never know how important someone is until we can’t be around them anymore. I called often, but not often enough. I visited every once in a while but not as much as I should have, or at least during the final years. 

I’ve always had a special bond with Gramps. He was so calm and caring. Took care of people – without wanting any recognition for it. When everyone around me was melting over a cute baby, he sat in the corner watching me in awe, his first great granddaughter. I would choose him over everyone else. My old soul has always been connected to his. 

He would take me out for lunch dates and to see his friends, he called them “the fellas”, or on special occasions “the gentlemen”. But I know them as the fellas. He and his fellas would go out to breakfast Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday after church. Then the lunch schedule was every Tuesday, Thursday and sometimes Saturday. Such a predictable man in his schedule but not in his words. 

One of my favorite memories I have with him is his cookie jar. Whenever I went over to his house, which happened to be right across from mine, I would have a cookie from the cookie jar. My favorites were soft bread, pepperidge farms, milk chocolate wafers. They were always placed around the rim of the jar for my easy access. 

I remember holidays with him. Birthdays, Halloween, Christmas, Turkey Day. He would always sit next to me at my birthday parties to watch me blow out my candles. Always gave me ridiculous amounts of money for Christmas – I was a rich 8 year old. The food he had for Turkey Day was the best. Collard greens, homemade mac and cheese, rotisserie chicken (not turkey), pomegranate salad and sweet potato pie. Turkey Day at his house was always fun and it was always my favorite food to eat. 

I remember sitting in the family room downstairs, him on the couch, me on the floor, family surrounding us. I remember his huge backyard and running around it as if I didn’t have my own. His was always more fun. 

Towards the end, his health declined and he started to give up. Wouldn’t even answer my calls anymore. But when he finally did, he sounded strong, like he hadn’t just been struggling for weeks to walk and to eat and to sleep. He didn’t want me to hear him like that, so he waited. Waited till he got better to hear my voice. Looking back I was so upset, maybe not with him but just with life in general. ‘Why was this happening to him?’ But then he got better and all I saw was strength. 

He was the strongest man I’ve ever met. He didn’t pressure me. He did not lecture me. He knew that I knew who I was. And he would be so proud of me if he was here today. I choose to believe that he, like my other ancestors, has my back. 

His family, my family, were slaves. My bloodline is strong and fierce. My bloodline has overcome the most inhumane forms of treatment. Gramps broke the chain. 

He was the first Black colonel to enter Italy, I believe it was Italy, during WW2. He was a pharmacist for decades. He went to college, pharmacy school to be exact. He saved money like crazy but also spent it like crazy. Never on himself. He was the best father to his son and grandson, although they don’t continue his legacy within them. He was the best great grandfather, who showed me off because he was proud. 

“Dead people receive more flowers than the living ones because regret is stronger than gratitude.” – Anne Frank. 

(It’s crazy to think Gramps and Anne were alive at the same time)

This quote sticks with me when I think of Gramps. Although we were close, and I kept in contact frequently, I still felt regret. I wish I was with him. I wish I was there so I could’ve been the last face he saw. His favorite smiling little girl. But I don’t want to feel regret. I don’t want to feel sad for something that wouldn’t have happened anyway. That would have brought closure to me but for Gramps, he would have hated every second. Seeing how hard he masked his pain before, it wouldv’e been torture for him if I was there. 

I still remember the phone call. I remember screaming and panicking. Running out of my room. My mom trying to console me. The pain in my throat from the endless sadness and pain that just wouldn’t go away. 

Moral of the story, my story, Gramps’ story – if you love someone tell them, call them, show them, visit them. Don’t live with regret even if that’s all you feel when that person is gone. Hug them, human touch is the most healing form of medicine. And remember them. Don’t be angry at them for leaving, celebrate them. The life they led, the light they had. 

I will forever celebrate my Gramps. My old soul will always be connected to his. 

He was the only amazing man I’ve ever met.