Life is not easy. I’m not sure it was ever meant to be. Day in and day out, we all scramble to keep up with it all. I decided to start writing again while sitting in my journalism class on a particularly stressful day, as I came to the realization that without an outlet I would eventually blow a fuse. I think everyone needs something like this; a hobby or a space of their own where they can attempt to mentally and emotionally tackle the things that threaten to bring them crashing down every day.
My grandfather died recently. Or at least it still feels recent. I don’t like saying “he passed” or “he left us”, because it doesn’t work like that. Using every word but dead to describe losing a loved one doesn’t make it any less awful of a feeling, so why not be honest about it? To say he and I were very close would be a gross understatement. Growing up, my father was pretty much non-existent, so my grandfather stepped very willingly and successfully into that important role of male mentor. He taught me almost everything I know about being a man, and I am only as capable as I am thanks to his patient guidance.
Anyway, he had this shop in his basement. Whenever I wanted to make something or had a project for school, he would take me down to the shop and teach me. Every time I was in the shop with him, I learned something new. After his death, I stopped going into his shop. We never talked about it, but the rest of the family all agreed that it should pass to me; his space and his tools. I just couldn’t be in there without him, it seemed somehow cosmically wrong. After a few months, I finally opened the door and walked in. I started cleaning it up and putting everything in it’s proper place. He had school pictures of my brother and I on the cabinet doors and all the little cards we made him over the years, the ones from before we could spell. It was difficult to say the least. But he always used to say to me “if you use the shop, it better be clean by the time you’re done”. Somehow, from the grave, he was right there nagging me again. That made me laugh.
Going in the shop isn’t so hard anymore. Every single pen or ring I turn on my lathe reminds me of when he was here, and I smile. I would show him what I made and his face would light up with this ear-to-ear grin. Sometimes he gave a little chuckle. He never really told me he was proud of me in so many words, but he never needed to. We had our own language. For a while there, after he died, I wondered if I had told him I loved him often enough. I don’t worry about that so much these days. I think he knew.
Don’t ever let yourself wonder. Make sure they know.