"It all starts with the grandfather." That was his famous saying.
Whenever a compliment would befall any of his grandchildren, my grandfather always took credit, and rightly so. He was the one who started it all, and it was because of him, even without meaning, that our family was brought together. He had a great spirit and was always regarded as a monumental man.
More recently though, he had become less like himself, thinner and paler, as though something was eating him up from the inside out. That was when we found out he had cancer. It began to control his body, slowing down his vibrant self, yet never fully diminishing his spirit. He fought the disease for over a year and on Jan. 5 peacefully left this earth.
After - the week dragged on drearily and school seemed endless. I wanted to push the terrible thoughts into the back of my mind by consoling myself with the visit of my cousins. Finally, Friday had come and my house was filled with family from all over the country. Each of us was thrilled to have one another during this difficult time. With my family by my side, this weekend would not be as bad as I thought.
Saturday morning, we left from New Jersey on our road trip to Rochester, N.Y., my grandpa's beloved home town. All too soon, the mood broke as we arrived at our destination. It was mid-afternoon, and the sky was gloomy and gray, reflecting everyone's mood, as we filed before the lake to place my grandpa's ashes.
"May the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back . . .," that was all that was said, the Irish Blessing, and it was all that was needed. So many things had changed since the summers at his lake, especially me. I thought my grandfather would live in his house forever, always close when I needed him. Change for me was a strange thing to experience. Growing up, I had learned that change was good, but losing my grandfather was a change I did not want to accept. We had all cherished the memories, yet now they seemed faded and distant.
The next day was even more melancholy; it was the day of his Irish wake. All of the people he loved so dearly entered into the hall. It was amazing to me what a great impact my grandpa could have on so many people. We then began to have a sort of celebration, because my grandpa did not want any sad faces on his day of remembrance.
One by one, some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins got up to say a little something about my grandpa, each reflecting on him in a different way. My cousin Catie remembered how as a child, he had given her unsolvable riddles, which made her laugh as she tried to guess the answer.
Another one of my cousins spoke, saying, "I never had a father who supported me, but I had my grandfather, and that was enough."
There was not one memory with my grandpa I will ever forget, or one lesson he has taught me. Now that he has passed, I will miss his Sunday morning phone calls, his silly nicknames for my friends and me, as well as his puzzling words of wisdom.
The ride home, I spent a lot of time thinking about the weekend. When it was time to separate from my family, we hugged and made promises to visit, and plans for the summer. I knew in my heart that this was the weekend my grandpa would have wanted. No matter how far apart we lived, we all shared one heart with a place in it for family. His influence on many people reminded me that I was his granddaughter, and that I could influence people the way that he did. Maybe all it took was an act done out of friendship, or a phone call to a family member, which could be done.
Just as when he was alive, my grandfather started it all. And now, it had ended with him, too. I believe that I was not the only one who thought about him a lot after those cherished days.
Walking into my house I felt as though everyone was there with me. And although they weren't, someone was, and always will be: my grandfather.