by Jonathan Hilton
I can remember that day very clearly. I was sitting at the restaurant with french fries and a chocolate shake on the table in front of me, talking with my grandparents about my upcoming graduation from high school.
The reason I recall this day is not because of anything that was said, it was the feeling I had of becoming an adult and that my grandparents approved of the young man I was turning into and that made me feel good.
How did I know they approved? I suppose I didn’t for sure at that moment, but there are many other forms of communication that can’t be ignored.
His Name Was Leslie
My grandfather’s name was Leslie, I always thought how tough life must have been with
that name, but he did not give two shakes what anyone else thought about him. It was one of the things that I was often embarrassed by as a kid and one of the things I remember most fondly today.
Thoughts of Leslie came up today, I was thinking about how do you know if someone you love who has passed away would be proud of you today? Leslie died in 1993 from complications from heart surgery. It was unexpected, it was supposed to be a routine surgery, but there is nothing routine about any procedure as we found out.
I Never said Good bye
I never got a chance to say good-bye in person, and I have no idea how he really felt about me then. He was from a generation that didn’t talk about their emotions very much. You just had to kind of figure it out. There were signs, but you had to look to see them.
Wondering now as I move along in life, I have faced difficult times. I have made mistakes. I have been far from perfect. I accept that, and I wonder often if Leslie and I could sit down and have a conversation today, what would he say?
I would ask, “Grandfather are you proud of me? Knowing all that I have done and been through. I imagine the response goes something like this.
“I have always been proud of you, because you are the only one who can be who you are. You never saw my challenges and the struggles I had with my parents and finding my place in the world. I am not sure how I would have done in your shoes. I do know that where you are now, only you could get there, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen in the future. I love you.” I don’t remember him ever saying that to me in my life, but in my heart I just know he did. Why else would he do so many fantastic things for me?
Gone but Never Forgotten
That conversation is what I imagine and it affects me almost like it were real and not the whispering of a ghost. In the end I guess it doesn’t matter, because I have to realize that I am a good person, I wouldn’t steal from you for any reason. I won’t lie if I can help it, (how does my hair look? If it looks bad, I don’t want to hurt feelings.) I would try to help anyone who needs it. In fact, when I look at the things like that I realize,
I am just like Leslie, and that makes me realize that even though he is no longer here, he lives inside of me and I owe it to him and all of my family to be the best human being I can be, including being proud of who I am and what I have become.
That is why I have no choice, when I eat an order of fries and a chocolate shake but to remember Leslie. I smile and feel happy for who I am.