Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Papa Burt.

Photo courtesy of Deb at Smitten Kitchen

Today marks what would have been my grandpa's 90th birthday. He only made it to 80 and it still manages to surprise me how seemingly long he's been gone, as well as how it feels as though he only passed just a couple weeks ago. He died the day I moved to college and while I'd like to believe that 18 was relatively recent, the fact that I'm two years from 30 cannot be ignored.

I am a very different person from the one I was 10 years ago.

Sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like if he and my grandmother were still around. What it would have been like to have them at my college graduation. At my wedding. I used to say to them when I was little, "But you are going to live forever, thankfully!" to which my Papa Burt would always reply, "Elizabeth, if you live long enough, you're gonna die." He was pragmatic, if anything.

A man of very few words, he was a puzzle I knew like the back of my hand and one I could never figure out all at the same time. I still do, really, feel like I knew him so well and not at all. It's hard to explain.

There are things I have about him ingrained in my head that are vivid, and it's comfortable when a memory suddenly floods in. How he used to style his snowy white hair with Brill Cream. His tan or gray Members Only jackets and how he always smelled like Brut cologne. His love of Cowboy Western movies. His homemade vanilla ice cream. Playing "Clair de Lune" on the organ. 3 O'clock Diet Cokes, always with extra ice and a straw. Turbo speed in his light gold Saturn.

I realize how lucky I am to have had a set of grandparents like my Grammy and Papa. When you get older and start to see the intricacies of the world, you realize that not everyone is lucky to have wonderful grandparents (or even a mediocre set); amazing grandpas and grandmas are truly a thing to be treasured and cherished.

So while I will always greedily wish I had more memories, more time with him, I am forever grateful that in all the inexplicable luck, or destiny, or whatever you want to call it in the world, that he was mine.

That he was my grandpa.

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