A few friends and my own children have lost their grandads in the past months. Grandads, papas, tatas, seem to capture that special place in our heart. A place inhabited by great story tellers who smell like Old Spice and cigarettes; never offensive and somehow funny while not trying to be.
To be a "good old man" takes the seasoning of many battles with a just a few more wins than losses. It takes the kind of grace brought on by having suffered through the tragedies of life while still keeping a love for a child's smile. That old man wisdom that is shared by telling a story but never from a direct command of "you oughta do it this way or that."
While grandad might tell the same story every time you see him, it takes on a different meaning which each re-telling. I once used to think it was my grandad's maturing that salted the story. Now I know its my own grey hairs that enrich the flavor of remembering his tales as if he told them last night, though he has been gone from this earth for 16 years. I even hear his voice and see his wry smile when I think of him telling me about the red-headed grandmother I never knew.
Love is being hugged by your tata when you know his embrace is saved for you. Love is seeing his tears shed for your imperfect life seen through his eyes that make you somehow better today than yesterday. Love is knowing papa will hold your hand like no other can or ever will. Love is remembering.