grandpakellyOn this date, June 19th, back in 1987, my grandfather’s soul left his body. It was the day before his 62nd birthday. I was heartbroken. I was not yet 9 years of age. I couldn’t fathom how this larger-than-life man was suddenly gone.

We used to have grandpa & granddaughter dinner dates at Coyle’s Restaurant in Houghton Lake. I would follow him around the VFW hall, washing dishes in the bar while he cooked meals for the Veterans. I would sit on his lap while he lounged in his black recliner, doing word searches. He used to keep Hostess King Dongs in the bottom drawer of the fridge and make hot fudge sundaes. He always made his ranch dressing from scratch and put it on everything. He loved to cook and wear his “Where’s The Beef?” apron and chef hat. He was a ham in front of the cameras. He had a distinct voice and laugh that would tickle your heart when you heard it. I thought I would never hear his voice again but I was wrong.

I think it was about a month after his passing when he first came to me in a dream. He reassured me that he was still with me. I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone but soon learned that others didn’t want to listen. I kept my dreams and conversations with Grandpa a secret for the majority of my life.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am guided by my grandfather as I work beside my father to continue the family legacy of working with Veterans (and General Motors). I honor him as I honor our nation’s heroes. I am following in his footsteps when I send care packages to the troops, organize fundraisers and knit scarves for the homeless Vets at the VA. And I know it makes him proud that we work as a family–my father, mother, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and a plethora of honorary family members.

So I no longer mourn his passing. In 1987, his body left us but his soul never did. He is with me every day. So Grandpa, I promise I will continue talking to you daily and carry on your legacy of working with the veterans. Tomorrow, I will drink a 7 and 7 in your honor.