This is a picture of my grandparents, my dad and I at my college graduation.
I remember how happy my grandmother was just to be there. She had missed my high school graduation due to a medical issue and this was a moment she had been looking forward to for a long time.
I would have been happy just to have had a nice meal with my family. It was a freezing spring day, a symptom of the notoriously unpredictable Michigan weather, and sitting out in Michigan Stadium amongst thousands of other graduates didn’t seem very important to me. After all, I had graduated and my good friends and I had taken the last few weeks to make sure we spent quality time together.
But I knew how important this was for my grandmother. I could tell how proud she was of me and how much it meant to her to be there - even if it meant sitting on a metal stadium bench in the cold for hours.
My grandparents taught me the meaning of unconditional love. That may sound cliché, but they were always there for me - my biggest fans through good times and bad.
When I was a small child, my grandparents helped take care of me after my mom passed away. A time period that could have been filled with loneliness was instead filled with warm memories of times spent with them. I remember building forts in their den, taking walks to the mall and going to feed the nearby horses carrots with my grandmother. I remember helping my grandfather build and tinker with things in the garage and lending him a hand as he gardened on the hill next to their condo. I could go on and on…I have endless positive memories of the adventures we shared and the love and care they showed me.
My grandfather passed away a few years ago, and this past weekend, my grandmother passed away after 93 years of life.
Her life was full of adventure. I wrote about both of them here - but it bears repeating that they loved to travel.
My grandmother, in particular, was an adventurer. She joined the South African Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during World War II in the hopes of seeing Palestine and the world. She was only 22 years old.
Not only did she get to hop on planes to Jerusalem, travel to Syria, Iraq and many other countries I could never visit now, but she also met my grandfather while stationed in Cairo.
After the war they moved to New York and started a family. They raised two kids but never lost their passion for travel. They toured the world many times over. It was the tie that bound them.
Even during a period of her life when my grandmother knew it would be too hard to make the long trip, she was always busy planning a visit to South Africa. Some may have thought she was delusional, but I saw that she still possessed a relentless spirit of adventure and a strong love of her family.
That was my grandma: Loving, a fierce proponent of the importance of family, an adventurer, and my number one fan.
I miss the hell out of her and I miss the hell out of my grandfather. They were an irreplaceable part of my foundation.
I miss them but will carry on that same sense of family, the importance of unconditional love, and the spirit of adventure in my own life.
I love them and miss them very much.