I never had the chance to meet my grandfather on my father's side of the family. He died when my father was 12. However, he was somewhat of a legend in my family, especially to me.
My advanced apologies for the upcoming lengthy background on my grandfather, but I feel it's important to share it so that it helps explain my strong connection to him today.
My grandfather was born to immigrants from Germany. When his family came to America, they were very poor, much like the masses who migrated here. His parents ended up in a rural area of Missouri where he was born, and he made his way to Kansas City at some point in his early childhood.
As I understand it, my grandfather had a bit of a scrappy personality - determined to "make it" - and was an incredibly hard worker and stunningly resourceful. He didn't graduate from high school, but he made his mark using pure grit and sheer will. In his early teens, he somehow impressed a few of the wealthy families in Kansas City, which led to various jobs and important connections.
One of those connections helped him get a job at the major newspaper in the city as an office boy at the age of 14. He later became a newsboy and also delivered newspapers. Eventually, my grandfather worked his way up to become the director of circulation for the newspaper and the president of the newspaper circulation association in the Midwest. This was a big deal for him and his family. His career spanned more than 50 years at the newspaper.
Often touted as my grandfather's crowning achievement, he was profiled by a national magazine for his ingenious response to the massive flood of 1951. At any great news organization back in the day, it was a sign of weakness if you didn't deliver the news on schedule, regardless of bad weather and catastrophes. When the floodwaters inundated the streets of Kansas City and beyond, my grandfather was determined to get the newspaper out to its readership. The usual rail and highway routes out of the city were under water and many bridges had been washed away. He rallied the troops at the newspaper and various carriers to improvise newspaper distribution via boats, wagons, tractors, rented trucks and airplanes. The man was passionately committed!
I was often curious about him as a child, but that curiosity grew even stronger as I started my career as a journalist. As fate would have it, I ended up working at the same newspaper and in the same building and offices as he did. I loved being in that old building for many reasons, chief among them was feeling closer to my grandfather. He was a legend in his day and I have so much respect for him as a man and for what he accomplished. I understand and relate to his fortitude, as well. I, too, left home at an early age (16) to build a better life for myself. I finished high school, two college degrees and beyond on my own, most of it while raising a son on my own, too. I am not bragging here - just pointing how that I know how hard it is to come from a disadvantaged situation and find the strength to make something of yourself and live a good life no matter what comes your way. I also share his crazy drive and determination and commitment to a good career. I also knew my grandfather would understand my job better than anyone in my family. Although I was in editorial and he was in circulation, I imagine we could share some amazing "war" stories about our time in the business. Oh, how I wish I would have met him in this life!
Although I never met him physically, I did see my grandfather once in spirit. I was just shy of three years old and I was standing at my father's legs while my grandmother's coffin was being lowered into the ground. I need to preface this by pointing out that my grandfather and grandmother had an amazing love for each other. They were always "in love" with one another. My parents and aunt and uncle often spoke of the deep bond my grandparents shared and how heartbroken my grandmother was when my grandfather passed away from a heart attack. My grandmother died 15 or so years later from cancer. It was on the day of her funeral that I saw my grandparents reunite.
As we were finishing the graveside service, I remember holding onto my father's leg and looking up at him, feeling sad that he was sad. I was too young to understand what was happening, but I could tell that my dad was upset. I started looking around the cemetery grounds, which were quite beautiful with flowers and numerous huge trees. As I looked around, my eyes were drawn to the curve in the drive that ran parallel to the grave site. There at the curve stood my grandmother and grandfather holding hands. They were full-bodied, life-sized, incredibly happy and glowing! I have no idea how I knew it was my grandfather, but I just somehow knew it was him. With enormous smiles and beaming eyes, they happily waved to me. I could feel their love and happiness and it made me giddy! They stood there and waved for what seemed like a very long time. In my excitement, I tugged at my dad's slacks while squealing, "Daddy! Daddy! Look! It's grandma and grandpa! Look!"
My dad, mom and other relatives turned to look in the direction that I was pointing and waving. None of them could see my grandparents, but they believed that I saw them. I continued to jump up and down and wave right back! Eventually they turned away, joined hands again and walked away until fully disappearing into the grounds. This story has been retold for years in my family. I will never forget it. I cherish it to this day.
Okay, fast forward to the event at hand. A little more than a week ago, my mother called me to tell me that my father (they divorced when I was young, but can speak to one another without issue) had sent her a letter addressed to me via email. I no longer have a relationship with my father. In fact, it took me years to realize it, but my father was never a father to me or my brothers. I finally gave up and walked away from the relationship nearly 10 years ago due to his addiction issues, his constant disrespect for me and other deeply disturbing transgressions that a daughter should never have to endure at the hands of her father.
Without going into too much detail (I have already overloaded you with this story!), I feel a deep loss when it comes to the lack of a good, solid father in my life. No matter how much work I have done to heal, that tender spot still exists. I don't know why I still hold out hope that my father will someday turn into a decent human being, but it's still there and it seems to be eternal. For that reason, I decided to read the letter.
The purpose of the letter was for my father to make amends. He has done this several times in the past, but unfortunately each letter was written for himself and not for me. This letter was no different. Very superficial. I found myself crying on the couch, frustrated with myself for reading the letter and overwhelmed by all of the painful memories I've worked so hard to file away.
So, while lying on my couch softly crying, I decided to speak to my uncle out loud (my dad's brother who passed in 2006 - we were very close) and to my grandfather. I often speak to my uncle about my father. My uncle knew what a terrible father my dad was, so he tried to do what he could to be a good male influence in my life, which I appreciate. I was heartbroken when he passed.
I began speaking to my grandfather more consistently in the last year or so. I was told by a few gifted individuals that my grandfather is a primary guardian angel and has been in this role my whole life. So, I talk to him quite a bit now. I don't necessarily hear anything back, but I do feel that he and my uncle listen.
Through my tears, I told my uncle and grandfather that I was very confused as to why my father can't get his act together and be a good human being and that I am tired of the pain and disappointment. I told them that I wanted the familiar and painful ache to finally go away. I just don't want to deal with this anymore.
A few minutes after speaking out loud, I began to feel this incredible warmth/energy envelop my midsection, arms and neck. I don't mean warmth in the sense of being outside in 100-degree weather. It was this amazing warm feeling of pure love and strength. It completely enveloped me like someone was hugging me and then holding me. I could feel the gentle pressure of an embrace. I was surprised by it, but it was so emotionally moving that I had no desire to freak out. I looked around to see if I could see a shadow, apparition, something, but I couldn't. However, I knew in no uncertain terms that I was being hugged. It is so hard to put into words all that was communicated in that embrace, but it was amazing.
At first, I thought it might be my uncle. I know his energy very well, and his warmth is always reassuring. However, there was a different kind of strength to the energy/feeling embracing me. It was at this point that I realized that it could be my grandfather. It felt paternal and familiar (like family). I didn't want to waste time trying to further figure it out, so I closed my eyes and gave into the embrace while giving thanks over and over. I think it lasted for two minutes or so. It was spectacular! I didn't want it to end.
After about 10 minutes of basking in the glow from the hug, I called my mom to see if she could pick up on it. My mom has that sixth sense and I often turn to her for validation of the various spirit visits that happen in my life. Before I could share my thoughts on who I thought was hugging me, my mom blurted out, "It's your grandfather, honey." Well, good enough for me! My mom is usually right on target with her "perceptions." Plus, it felt right to me in that "knowing" sense.
This experience has forever changed me. I don't know how to properly describe my gratitude, but I am so thankful that my grandfather mustered up whatever energy he needed so that he could get through to me. It happened just when I needed it and just how I would imagine a father would be with his daughter when she is struggling. Kindness, love, strength, pride, respect, reassurance, compassion and a gentle kick in the backside. Thanks grandpa for the BEST HUG EVER! Now I have a stronger sense of what a paternal kind of love should be. Even more, this was a distinct sign that my grandfather is walking beside me in this life, and it touches my heart deeply and gives me strength to be proud of who I am, without shame.
I am sure I sound like a crazy person, but this was a beautiful experience, and I am grateful to be able to share it with you.
My apologies for the length of this story. Thank you for reading it.