Losing a Grandparent & a Safe Place

One year ago, we laid my beloved grandfather, Pop, to rest. He left an indelible and lasting mark on all those who knew and loved him; he was a man who believed in family, love, loyalty and doing the right thing, above all.

He is deeply missed.

For the past two months his wife, my beloved grandmother, Nan, has laid in a bed in hospice, preparing for her imminent trip to the afterlife.

She, too, will be deeply missed.

It is a difficult thing to lose two people who’ve made such an impression and a contribution to who you are, how you live and what you believe in. For decades these two people guided me in countless decisions, gave me counsel and most importantly, were that little voice in my head, showing me a way forward during challenging times. They were rock stars to me and my fellow family members.

Losing them physically is only one part of this equation. As I’ve pondered their passings I’ve come to realize something else that we’re losing — our safe place.

My grandparents’ home — which they lived in for 62 years — represented more than just a place for family get-togethers and parties. It was the place where I felt most comfortable on the planet. Why? Because of the calm, loving, supportive environment my grandparents fostered there. It was like a bowl of your favorite soup on a frigid day or that perfect spot on the couch where you settle in to snooze or read a book.

I don’t want to say that my own home was not a place of comfort and love. It was. The difference is that my parents divorced when I was a teenager and once that rift occurred, my grandparents home became home base. No matter when it is that your parents break up, a child searches for an anchor, a place to feel comfortable and solid, where everything is as it was and should be. Fortunately, my grandparents house, smelling of my grandfather’s cigars and my grandmother’s Italian cooking, with smiles and no judgment provided that comfort.

For years whenever I arrived home from college or my faraway jobs, I would bound up the steps to their tiny rowhome, as excited as a child to see them and feel the warmth and hug-like atmosphere of their abode. It was as if just walking in I could let down my guard and be myself, accepted no matter what.

That is the kind of place that I want to create for my family — a home where my wife, kids and, hopefully, grandkids feel a sense of peace, kindness and constant safety and support. A place they can rely on to be the same, day after day, year after year.

Just like we could always rely on Nan & Pop.

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