Next month it will be ten years since I lost my grandfather. I wasn't extremely close to him, by virtue of our family being so large. When I was a little girl, I wondered if I just blended in with the other twenty grandchildren. Nonetheless, I adored Grandpa. He was my superstar.
At Christmas each grandchild would get one small gift, along with the bag full of peanuts, peppermints and apples my grandpa packed for us. We all lined up in a U-shape in his living room to collect our traditional goodie bag. Us grandkids would complain and giggle to one another about the bags. I secretly looked forward to receiving mine. It was something that Grandpa did himself for all of us. As an adult, I discovered that long ago, apples were a common tradition during Christmas. It symbolized unity of the family. Something I'm certain my grandpa wanted to emphasize.
Grandpa was quiet, yet when he spoke it was wisdom. I felt connected to him with his teachings, since everything he taught my father was passed on to me.
The connection I feel now, goes beyond Grandpa's teachings. Shortly after his death and as time passes, I feel even more connected to him. I feel his love that he always had for me, stretching back to when I questioned it. And even further back to when I was born. Oddly, even further. I don't try to figure out how this is possible. I know it's beyond something I can understand in this physical life.
I don't question my connection because of what happened from the moment Grandpa was gone. I was extremely upset, the evening I came home from seeing him in the hospital, succeeding his passing. I didn't understand how someone who appeared to be so strong could be gone forever. The man I saw lying on the hospital bed wasn't him. The man I saw in the bed looked frail. I felt him still in the room, just not in his body. I wanted to hold him, embrace him, and make up for all the years. I needed him to know how much I loved him. To tell him how much I admired him. Now it was too late.
That evening I cried in my bed, exhausted with emotion, I fell asleep. What woke me was hearing, clearly, Grandpa's distinct voice.
His voice said, "no te preocupes."
I awoke and sat in my bed wondering what that sentence meant. I never heard him say this, but I knew I heard the words before. Grandpa always spoke to me in English, but I knew these words spoken in Spanish made it more intimate. After several minutes of concentrating, I figured out what it meant. It meant, "Don't you worry."
I sat up in my bed. This time tears ran down my face from the sense of peace and awareness I had. I felt Grandpa around me, in a spiritual embrace, and I instantly knew his adoration was mutual.
Those three words not only just helped me. After sharing them with my parents they felt calmness in their hearts. My father being the eldest, shared my experience with many of his siblings. There would always be feuds in my father's family, especially during the times of death. Some didn't know how to handle loss. Sharing these words with his siblings brought a blanket of peace over everyone.
I knew one last time my grandpa was passing around the apples - uniting his family to give them strength and hope once again.