Friday, May 17, 2013

Memories of Grandfather

John Ward Willson IV
A year ago today I lost the most influential, amazing man I have ever known, my daddy. He worked in the travel industry into his eighties - still traveling around the world, meeting people, coordinating group trips and making connections. He loved people, and they loved him.

Some of my favorite memories of my daddy involve him as a grandfather. He always insisted that the grandkids call him Grandfather, not Grandpa or Granddad...He was "Grandfather!" The name suited him well because he was quite distinguished. Yet he knew how to make an entire room full of people absolutely roll in laughter. And he knew how to delight his grandchildren, all of whom adored him.

When he laid eyes on his first grandchild, my daughter Sarah, he was
My dad surrounded by his kids and grandkids.
He adored his family, and we adored him!
overcome with emotion. He was so happy to be a grandfather. As they grew, he made sure that each grandchild got to come to Dallas for a special visit with Grandfather and Gram - no parents, no rules, just a wonderful one-on-one time with grandparents who would spoil them and love them and make some wonderful memories with them.

Christmas was one of my dad's favorite times of year. He shopped all year long as he traveled to various countries. He experienced more joy than anyone I've ever known when he watched everyone open their gifts. Sometimes the gifts were amazingly insightful, like the pink pearl earrings he gave Anna or the leather-bound books he gave Daniel. Other times, they were downright hilarious, like the statuette of a man with two females (as tasteful as a threesome can be, I suppose) that he gave to a fifteen-year old Sarah. (It made the rounds through several years of regifting and Dirty Santa until it ended up with an aunt who loves it!)

When we think about my dad, our family realizes how incredibly blessed we were to have known this Renaissance man who was truly bigger than life in our eyes. His first great-grandchild was born just two weeks before he died. The juxtaposition of new life and death was very difficult for me. The day my daddy died, I found myself standing by Nicholas' NICU crib telling him what an amazing great-grandfather he had as the tears streamed down my cheeks. He would have adored his great-grandson if he had ever gotten to know him.

So on this one year anniversary of his death, I just wanted to take a moment to honor his memory by telling all of you to cherish your children's grandparents. You don't know how long you will have them. Be sure to make wonderful memories with them so that long after they're gone, your children will carry them in their hearts!

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