Sunday night. I watch the final putt during the PGA broadcast and I glance at the clock. It says 6:20.
I look out the window and see the sun slowly dropping in the sky. I get a bite to eat and then just after seven I start the walk to Grandpa's house.
Growing up is complicated. In one moment you think you have all the answers. The next moment you're a mess.
The truth is, most of my life I've held my myself to a very high standard. I haven't allowed myself to take risks. I haven't allowed myself to mess up. Failure has never been an option. I've been my own toughest critic. That's the truth.
As a teenager I was very focused on figuring things out. I wanted to grow, and I was also in a hurry to grow up. For the most part I was Mr. Dependable. Sometimes this made life feel easy and sometimes it didn't.
For many a summer night I would make the trek to Grandpa's. I'd stop in the kitchen and say hello to Grandma. I'd grab a cookie or two from the jar and head into the living room to see if he was up for an evening round. He always was.
Those evenings were easy, they were a true highlight of my youth. We talked golf. But it was more than just golf. I also listened to the stories. I listened to the subtle life lessons. And I developed a true appreciation for the story. Even today those that know me know, there is ALWAYS a story.
We would get out there and talk about shots. We'd talk about visualizing. We'd talk about nothing. And amazingly, talking about nothing was exactly what felt right to this teenage boy. There was no preaching or lectures, just unconditional support...and occasionally he'd pull another ball out of his pocket when I needed to improve on the shot I just hit.
I remember those dusk rounds. Most of them were just full of one liners and lots of practice. But there was one evening that I was agitated. And I remember it was about a girl. But you know what I also remember, my Grandpa didn't try to fix anything. He just did a little listening and let me be. I think as a teenager this is what I wanted. I just wanted a safe space. A space I could just forget my troubles and be.
During a tricky part of life my Grandpa provided consistency, stability, and the unconditional support that I didn't fully understand until I got older.
I still remember playing college golf and having our conversations swirling through my mind. It grounded me and gave me peace that is hard to explain.
And now life changes. My Grandpa is headed to a better place. He's going to be reunited with Grandma. The feelings that swirl in my mind are a mixture of sadness, memories, and guilt. The brutal truth is, when my Grandpa began to experience memory loss, I faded. Selfishly I wanted to preserve my memories. I wanted to keep the best memories, instead of ALL OF IT.
Life continues to teach me lessons. But one thing I've learned is a true appreciation for people in my life that don't judge.
I still have tough stuff. I still deal with holding myself to such a high standard. Truth is, I struggle to do it.
But today I lean on this...
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind...
Never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in...
And I would've like to known you but I was just a kid...
Your candle burned out long before...
Your legend ever did
I'm going to always tell myself the best stories when I think of my Grandpa. We all need people that provide us unconditional support. Thank you Grandpa. You will always live in my heart.
Mr. Gilpin is a people first educator that is focused on serving others, building relationships, student engagement and empowering staff.