A letter to my late Grandfather


Dear Grandpa,

It has been three years since you left us. It has definitely been strange without your personality around. We’ve all grown so much these last three years, but I know that you have been watching us. You always watch us. I think one of the lasting images I have of you was during grandma’s funeral. You requested that Daniel and I altar serve. At the end of the service grandma had been wheeled down the aisle. I watched as your children, grandchildren and friends cried. It’s the culmination of the funeral—arguably the saddest part. But you sang. You stared straight at the altar, and sang the closing hymn. You knew she was in a better place.

I’ve done so much since November 2010, and I know you saw it all. You saw me graduate, you saw my horrendous hair cuts/facial hair experiments, you saw what I wrote and you heard what I said on the radio. I’ve made my mistakes, so I hope you didn’t see those, but I imagined that you did, so sorry for them. I think about watching the Phillies, playing Rummy 500 and all of those holidays spent at 412.

I’m writing this to you because I miss you dearly. Although I don’t think about you every day—I think about you mostly everyday. You have made a greater impact on me than I could ever imagine. Whenever I feel disconnected with the world or feel lost, I think about you. It’s funny because my friends and I play Mario Party 2 on N64 sometimes. There is this game called “BOWSER’s Big Blast” which you have to choose one color out of five, but if you pick the wrong color you lose. The other night I picked yellow every single round for you, and I won. It was crazy because it went nearly 10 rounds (which is rare.) Every time I picked yellow I would say, “for you grandpa.” I think that is a sign. I think we can all use signs every now and then. You know, signs that show us that this life means something. I’m a big believer in destiny, and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know why I am this way, but it is just something I have always believed.

You taught me so much. You always put a smile on my face, so in return I try to do the same for others. I love wearing your Irish socks and I even named my blog “Feeling Just Swell” because of how incredible you are. You attended my basketball games and school functions. I remember playing hide and seek at 412. I remember how you always chewed a cigar. I wish I had the chance to know you now that I am older because I feel like I’m wiser. I feel like I know more about life now, and I would ask you more questions about the war and about your life and about your childhood. I knew about how you met grandma and how you got your job. I heard about your life in Chicago—but I wish I knew more. I feel as though you and I shared a special bond. I bet all of my cousins feel that same way, and that was what made you so great. You treated everyone as though he or she was the most important person, and that is a great feeling. When you spoke everyone in the room wanted to hear what you had to say. It’s like you were the most popular kid in school. You were the quarterback of our family—and you treated everyone the same.

Death gives us an opportunity to fix or help relationships that can be fixed or helped on earth. It opens our eyes to what truly matters—family, friends or whatever/whomever you really love. I remember my life immediately after your death. I remember I spoke with my parents more and appreciated my life more. But time goes by, and I forgot about those things. I sometimes forget how important my parents are, and how lucky I am to have two of them. I forget about my friends and the good times that we have. I forget about my sisters and brother. I forget that I have so much good in my life—so much to be grateful for.

Three years went by fast. Everyone always says that. It’s probably the most cliché saying. But it did. It felt like yesterday we watched the Cubs play the Phillies in that summer of 2010, and afterwards we watched Bonanza. So, I want to thank you for everything—for teaching me the five P’s, for allowing me to see the importance of friendship and family. For teaching me the words to my favorite song: John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. For always putting me in a good mood, and for always having M & M’s and cream soda. I do miss cream soda. And I can’t eat an M & M without thinking about you. That is love.

With love,

Joseph Phelan

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I write about the Eagles, 76ers, movies, music and frankly whatever the hell I feel like.

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