After days of cancelled flights and uncertainty surrounding when I would be able to return home to my family, I was finally able to board an aircraft from Raleigh, North Carolina bound for St. Louis, Missouri, only a few hours from my place of residence in Kansas City. My first flight was a breeze (literally, someone had horrifying gas on the aircraft which made the turbulence in the first part of it seem like a cake walk) and I was thrilled to find yet another available exit row seat on my second flight back home.
As I took my seat, I noticed the my row-mate, an older gentleman with the same thick glasses my grandfather used to wear when he was alive, bore a striking resemblance to one of my favorite people in the world. There was something about this man, the way that he carried himself and the look in his eye that reminded me so much of my Grandpa Bob. I couldn’t look away. I just wanted to talk to him, to get to know this mystery man who made me feel so comfortable the instant I took my seat. Why is that?
I’ve always been fascinated with the gentle reminders of the past. The faint smell that brings you back to the days when your grandmother would make holiday breakfasts, the gentle breeze that reminds you of a vacation you took when you were little. These are life’s little gifts that I cherish and am grateful for.
My grandfather was an incredible man. He lovingly nicknamed me “Holly Dunn”, always reminding me that she was his favorite artist.
When I was little, he would pick me up from school and take me out to lunch at the lake, or to the store to pick out a My Little Pony, or any other number of fun just us things. Those were the moments when he bonded with me, that made me feel like I was the most special granddaughter in the world. He was magical like that.
As I got older, he taught me how to play cards, how to drive a boat, and how to make the best sausage gravy for morning biscuits. I will always cherish those moments with my grandfather.
After he passed away in 2012, I really started to think about the life that he lived. He was a hard worker who loved to travel and, after he retired, he spent his years volunteering to help others. After the terror attacks on 9/11, Grandpa Bob spent time in New York City cleaning up in the aftermath. He continued to volunteer with the American Red Cross assisting post-hurricanes and anything else the disaster response team needed help with. I didn’t know until after he passed away the extent of his volunteer work and the impact that he’d made on the world around him during his life. He was amazing.
I appreciate that moment I had today, the gentle reminder of my wonderful grandfather, that pushes me to be a good person and do what I can, with what I have, to make the world a better place…it’s what Grandpa would have wanted. It’s what Grandpa would have wanted, after all.