Dear Grandpa Petros,
I do say I wish I had had the opportunity to know you. I didn’t even get Grandma long enough, as I’m sure you know she died when I was six. I want you to know I loved her with all my heart. She never did learn English, but we understood one another in our own ways. It would have been great if she taught me Lithuanian, but she wanted me to be an American; language and all. I would have loved if she could have told me about you in her own words.
What I knew of you was through the black and white photos she kept on the windowsill. They were covered in writing I didn’t understand, but it felt meaningful. Unfortunately a few of them were of you in your coffin. I can’t say I understood why those pictures were taken never mind displayed. I learned later it was a common thing in the old country. I tell ya, it’s creepy! Fortunately there were others. There was one of you in a uniform and another with a group of people, your family. You always reminded me a lot of my cousin Jimmy minus the height (he is quite tall). My understanding is that you were far under six foot. On the other hand your strong jaw, jet black hair and pale blue eyes would have made any young lady swoon.
Many of my mom’s memories are from after you got ill. They are seen through the veil of a heartbroken teenager who had to care for aging and fractured parents. I’ve heard tales of your strength as a young man and lifting a horse on your shoulders, that you were one of many brothers and sisters, that you were grandma’s second husband and that you helped others to escape before the war. The biggest and oddest fact being that I was born Feb 1, 1972 at 3:45pm and you died Feb 1, 1962 at 3:45am…very weird, a little creepy and coincidentally creating a very cool and unique connection for us.
I know when you came here you had big dreams that failed and that you never recovered. I’m sorry life was so hard for you here. It’s heartbreaking to know how much you lost. Mom says through it all you were passionate, angry and stubborn but full of love.
I want to say you thank you for coming to me in a dream. I know some people think Oiji boards and paranormal experiences are nonsense, but I will always cherish my experience. I used to play the Oiji board with a couple of dear friends in college. One night after a very intense experience each of us in a single night had a unique encounter. Mine was unforgettable. In the dream I entered grandpa Nick’s restaurant, people and cigarette smoke everywhere. I walk straight through as if I was being drawn through a maze and there you were. Hand out and smiling. You waved me to you. I can’t say I understood your words, but as your arm wrapped around my shoulder and you shook me and laughed I instantly felt your pride and love. It wasn’t a normal dream. It was peculiar from the way it felt to the memory of it. I thank you for that; for the few moments with you that live in the back of my mind. It was a gift and I have never witnessed anything like it since.
All that said, I hope you have found joy and peace. I’m not sure what I believe about the afterlife other than I know it exists somehow in some way. I’d love to think I will meet you again, that you are with the family and your friends laughing and sharing stories, taking care of Auntie Bertha and watching over all of us. I don’t really know though. What I do know is that you are out there in some way or form, an energy I get to share. Know that though we never met in this life you have always been in my heart and a huge part of who I am and I miss you.
I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I would like to ask you for one thing. Your daughter, my mom has had a tough go of it in this life. Maybe you could send some loving and healing energy her way. She’s trying but she could use the support, your support; an internal nudge, quiet inner moments of joy, a little epiphany in a dream…whatever you got. Thank you.
You are always in my heart.