Grief is the price we pay for love.
– Queen Elizabeth II
Gordie lost his father 14 years ago, on July 8, 1998. My children are in Vermont for a few days, and my mother-in-law took this touching photo of them surrounding the gravestone belonging to the grandfather they never knew. I never met him either. Gordie and I met in Boston six months after his dad passed away. The irony is that my mother met him once, and I was probably half a mile down the road from him. My family used to go up skiing on occasion and stay in downtown Chester, the small town where Gordie grew up in Southern Vermont. His parents owned a store right on the green, and my mother visited it often. I wish so much that there had been a reason for me to visit the store with my mother that day, even though it was ten years before I met Gordie. Even to have a memory of meeting a stranger would have provided a sense of comfort to me years later.
One of the things I admire most about my husband is his tremendously positive outlook on life. There is nowhere he has shown this trait more than in the way he has upheld his Dad’s memory in a very positive way. He has shared all of his stories with us, and has depicted a picture of a smart and interesting man who was curious about the world and how he could impact it. I am fortunate enough to have both of my parents still living. No person is perfect, but I have seen through Gordie’s loss the importance of remembering the goodness a person brought to this earth and the sheer uselessness in sharing anything negative about them. I deeply admire the way Gordie honors his dad in the way he lives his life, works hard, and gets involved in things like our local school committee.
Every year we talk about him on July 8. This year it became clear to me that my children understand the fragility of life and the pain of losing a loved one. Their questions were personal and touching. Our son Tom (Thomas Clark Spater II) pointed out, “Your dad died near your birthday. That must have been a really sad birthday for you, daddy.” They are growing up so fast. They have feelings which are real and rising more and more to the surface each day. Within an hour of that comment, Tom reminded me that Grampy (my dad) makes the “world’s best pancakes because he lets us put WAY more syrup on them than you do!” If there’s any consolation to my children only having one grandfather, my dad has gone above and beyond and acts as Star Grandfather extraordinaire. Being the only game in town in the grandfather department is a big job to fill, but he works hard in this role and our kids are so lucky to have him.
Time and space may separate us from the man we never knew, yet we smile up at you for the wonderful husband and father you brought us. Every July, we remember.