My grandfather is turning 100 years old next month, which completely blows my mind. I'm flying to South Dakota with my partner to do strange Americana activities at Mt. Rushmore and then celebrate his century of life with everyone on my mother's side of the family. It's going to be a very special time, and I am really looking forward to it. I wish my aunt could be there with us, but this year has brought with it big heartaches, as well, and she is no longer here. It's devastating to think about my grandpa having to endure losing his daughter so late in his life, but he is a very wise old man, and he has handled her passing better than any of the rest of us.
I suppose that sort of deep understanding about death is to be expected of a person who has lived 100 years. He has already said goodbye to his grandparents, his parents, his cousins, his siblings, all his friends, and his wife. He is at peace with having loved and lost, and he seems to be fine with his own mortality. Clearly, this man knows something about life that I have yet to learn.
Many decades ago my grandparents created a culture of sweetness, love, and warmth in their home that got passed along to my mother and her sisters, and then passed along again to their children. The idea that two people can love each other forever is no myth in our family. We have watched it happen over and over again, and that history of adoration and commitment has made for a really devoted bunch.
Even after my grandmother's passing, my grandfather remained the same devout, kind man he had always been. He has never once in my life talked down to me or judged me or used any kind of angry tone with me. He was gentle with me all through my very unfortunate childhood, and he loved me just the same when I was an angry teenager. As an adult, when he found out about my being gay, he didn't bat an eyelash. This man has celebrated my being here, part of his life's exquisite creation, since the day I was born. I feel so honored to be counted as one of his, and to be a small piece of his great legacy. It's not often that a man my age still gets to have his grandfather around. I know how lucky this makes me, and I am so grateful for the experience of knowing him in this way for so long.
It must be quite a feeling for my grandpa to sit back and watch all this love he's made come to life and change the world right in front of him, to watch the family he set out to create grow into something as strong and wonderful as ours. He strikes me as a man with very few regrets, and I hope to someday be this kind of man, too.
Here's hoping I get 100 healthy years to work on it...
(Old family photos: Logan Lynn)
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