Well what do you know, Zambians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving! How inconsiderate of them to not take the time to appreciate the fact that many eons ago, in the Americas, we once fought with the Natives and decided we wanted in on the action and fun. Thus forcing the hand of the Natives to agreeing to our ways of putting on big buckles on our hats and waists, cutting out vests from Stater Bros brown bags and doning a merry attitude all in Thanksgiving that we didn’t nearly knock ‘em out with our horrible diseases! So, I can’t believe the Zambians wouldn’t want to take part in all of that.
I had a funny anecdotal Thanksgiving themed entry for this week, however, I wanted to share something more pressing thats been on my heart. Something that keeps coming to my head at the moment.
Life is beautiful.
26 years it has taken me to appreciate this phrase. 26 years, 7 months, and 19 days, I have come into the understanding that life is precious, life is wonderful, and that in fact life is indeed beautiful.
Sadly this revelation came at the passing of my precious, wonderful and beautiful grandpa. He was Grandpi to me. “Grandpi”… it was an accident when I had called him that once in high school, a simple flub of the brain, but he had laughed when I’d said it, so I kept it. Grandpi was the distinguishing name I called him to set him apart from all other grandpas, but it wasn’t necessary because he was my only grandpa, the only one I ever knew from my parents. I wasn’t fortunate to grow up knowing both grandpas, my mothers father having passed away before she was even a year old, but I did have my grandpa from my dads side. I almost feel as though God took this into account and decided that since I was already down a grandpa, that He would grant the other to live longer, to fulfill and enrich my life for longer. And that’s exactly what Grandpi did. He taught me how to make things out of junk, how to fix just about anything with a little bit of glue, how to distinguish edible plants vs. weeds, how to hum, how to take naps like a champ, how to make grandma mad one second and then make her laugh the next, how to play Escoba, how to just be in a space where words aren’t necessary, and so much more.
So for 26 years, I was blessed with wonderful grandparents, a grandpa and two grandmothers (and later a step-grandpa when I was in college, go Yaya!), when other friends my age were losing their grandparents, mine kept holding on, and holding on. I simply took it for granted until I realized time doesn’t stop for anyone, and before I knew it, those hands I was holding just before I left, just two weeks ago, and that gringo Spanish he was talking to me with, would be the last time I’d see or hear anything of him.
I’ve been so, so fortunate to not have lost anyone within an arms reach of me my entire life. When I say within an arms reach, I mean my close friends and family whom I hold dearly. We all have those people who are just in arms reach when we need to call on them, to cry with, to laugh with, to vent to, to just be with. My Grandpi was all that and more, so to have lost someone from my arms reach, hurts. It sucks and in the words of my father, “I don’t like it.” Being thousands of miles away from my people I reach out to is devastating and frustrating. I knew it was a risk when we decided to move to Zambia but to not be there to hug my beautiful grandma & yaya, my little cousins, my devoted aunt and uncle, my favorite brother and sister-in-law, and of course my amazing parents, kills me. But I remind myself that we are all in fact wonderful products of my grandpa and I can’t thank him enough for giving me a family that I love and truly enjoy being around. For that, I am very thankful. More than ever, being here in Zambia, a country he once called home, I feel more connected to him. Yet another reason to be thankful for all of his stories all those years ago, that inspired me and got me itching to be a missionary and that would one day lead me to live in one of his many “homes”. It’s really all his fault and my grandmas that I’m half way across the world because they inspired and but that fire under my feet to get out into the world and discover its many fascinating people, places, cultures and food!
There it is, that small article “was” that I’m not yet used to seeing as I type these words or read texts from my family as we talk about him. The worst part about all this is, since it’s happening from a distance for me, when I go back home, I’ll have to relive it again when his absence is felt. When others have already begun the healing process and lived life without grandpa, I’d been living in Africa where he has been distant and alive in my brain. So when I go to my grandparents, there will only be my grandma and when we gather for birthdays or holidays, he won’t be there reading on the couch, but rather he’ll already be building his house in heaven where we all will live together someday. Either that or taking naps until we get there!
So here’s to you Grandpi, hoping I can do good in Zambia, just like you!