My dad was the best dad. And I don’t say that lightly. So when he passed away unexpectedly my sophomore year of college, it rocked my world. I never imagined my own kiddos would grow up without knowing my dad, their grandpa. And once I had my first baby (who, ironically enough, was due on the ninth anniversary of my dad’s death), the full weight of this hit me—hard. My son would never meet his grandpa.
Being a religious person, I believe that my dad and kids will meet in heaven someday. But I hope that day is a loooong way off. Since having my first child six years ago, I struggle with the balance of passing along my dad’s memory to my kids without sounding morbid or depressed.
My kids deserve to know about their grandpa. He was one of my most favorite people. And they should know why. But how do I do that when they’ve never met him?
I have pictures of my dad around my home.
I would rather decorate my home with personal photos than designer art, so pictures fill the walls of my house. There are pictures of every important person in my family’s life. And some of those pictures are of my dad. I never bring attention to my dad’s photos. However, over time, my two oldest kids have noticed the pictures and asked questions. This opens the door for me to talk about my dad.
Another way I’ve kept his memory alive is by describing my dad to my kids.
They don’t know what he was like, so I tell them funny stories about their grandpa. Sweet stories. Inspiring stories. Or just stories that explain the kind of man he was. My kids know random things about him—like he loved the sunshine and being outdoors. He would try pretty much anything—sports, food, you name it—at least once. He was addicted to coffee. He did a triathlon when I was in seventh grade. Random grandpa facts have made him more personal to my kids.
Once in a blue moon one of my sons asks a question about my dad.
I usually don’t know what made them think of the question, but I love that they ask. It’s like a little gift because it tells me they are thinking about him and want to know more. And since he was such a fantastic person, I love being able to answer their questions about him.
It’s very important to me that my kids know about their grandpa. I also want to make sure that we don’t memorialize him in an unhealthy way. And that’s why I talk about all our loved ones—because we have been blessed with some amazing people in our lives. But I certainly don’t want my kids deprived of knowing what kind of man raised their mom.