An Open Letter To The Man I Can’t Thank Enough

I write this letter with a child-like optimism in my heart, and a harsh reality in my head. Everyone dies. We learn that at such a young age, and it never truly settles in, or seems fair. Death is a daunting being, even when you expect it, you can be broken by the result. But don’t worry cause that’s not what this is about. I refuse to let the thought of death consume all the other feelings that need to be explained at a time like this.

No, this is about looking back the times I was too dumb to thank you. To be grateful for all the times you were there, and appreciate what all you had done, and will do for me. It’s about remembering the field trips you were a part of, the holiday dinners, and the struggles of a family that you fought like hell to keep grounded. The times you swallowed your pride to let me keep mine, and put me in my place when I thought I was bigger than the rules.

We all have sports heroes, those larger than life athletes that make us work in the yard for hours, trying to be just like them, and then we have real life heroes. Real life heroes are a special type of human being, they’re those larger than athletes type. They make it so you never lose faith, never give up, and make sure you never feel like you’re fighting any battle on your own. It wasn’t long after I could walk, that I realized how close I was to a real life hero. A man who fought for this country, who supported a family after being sent home with a purple heart, and that helped raise five grandchildren not in a way molded by his own image, but in a way that gave each one of us an identity all our own.

For 21 years, you’ve been a grandpa, a friend, a teacher, and my biggest fan. For all that time, I idolized you, became enthralled by your image, and humbled by your ideas. I could count on you to always be in my corner, and be a helping hand when I was struggling. You never asked for anything, never will, you just wanted all of us to be happy, and bent over backwards every damn day to make sure we were. The part that gets me, is that I have never been able to truly show my gratitude for the unbelievable treatment, and unbreakable love you have shown me my entire life.

I brainstormed for weeks, months, trying to figure out how I could ever repay you for going above and beyond in every way possible, just to be there for us. I came up short with every idea. It never seemed good enough, and it broke me down every day because I needed to show you how much it all meant to me. Then, as you always do, you reminded me how much I meant to you, and that you loved me no matter what. That was it. No, not how I could show you my thanks, but more so it was the reason I could never do it. You will never know how thankful I am for you because you will never stop having an astronomical impact on my life. It can’t be an “after the fact” thank you note, or a down the road “Hey, I really appreciate everything,” because it will never end. You will never stop reminding me, whether in person, or in my head, that I am exactly where I need to be at that moment, and that through all my mistakes, misfortune, and misguided adventures, you will always have my back.

We sure as hell don’t know what tomorrow holds, and you, in the way that you always do, won’t let me think negatively. You’re finding positives in the same breath that makes me breakdown. You have changed my life, for the better, in every way imaginable, and along with this theme we’ve got going, I can never thank you enough. I can hear you right now “I love you big guy, thank you for being you” and that kills me, because it doesn’t seem right that YOU should have to thank ME. But, you do. You always do. Without any certainty as to what life has planned, I just wanted to remind you that I love you, I miss you, and I thank god every day for you. Be strong Papa, and remember that now is my time to be there for you.

Forever, and always,

Your Grandson, Kyle

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