"Mommy, is that your grandpa?" he asked as he pointed to a picture of my grandpa Halter and me. I've never spoken to him about my grandpa, all the wonderful things I remember about him. Like how he taught me how to play the piano, which I did at his funeral, or how involved he was in the community.
"Yep! That's my grandpa Halter," I replied, smiling. "He went to heaven before your great grandma did. He was waiting there for her."
"Oh. I don't know him," he said, a frown creasing his eyebrows.
"I know, buddy. I wish you knew him, too."
"I don't like that," he pouted.
I was a little confused. "That he went to heaven and you didn't get to meet him?"
"Yeah," he replied. "I don't like that."
All I could do was say I was sorry. He would have loved my grandpa Halter, and my grandpa would have loved him right back. I can just picture them sitting side by side at the upright piano that now resides in my mom's living room, pounding out Chopsticks and giggling when they hit a wrong note. I'm sure my grandpa would have already tried to teach him how to waltz around the living room.
I looked behind me and saw my mom with tears streaming down her face. I know she misses him even more than I do and I feel bad that this random conversation upset her. Still, I'm sure that it also made her happy to know that Brenden and Lauren will know their great grandpa through me. They'll hear the story about how he would get dressed for church and "forget" that he was only in his long johns. Or how we made lasagna one time and he let me "accidentally" plant a sauce-y hand print on his forehead. They'll know that one spring a family of robins built a nest on my grandparents' porch and they videotaped the little eggs' progress until they hatched.
William Lee Halter
(Lauren got one of her middle names from him.)
No matter if they spend years or months or no time at all, great grandparents have a way of shaping the future of their great grandchildren. I feel so lucky that I had such a wonderful person in my life to share with them.
(ETA: I wrote this post on Tuesday night and scheduled it to be published today. Yesterday, we were outside playing and a robin landed next to me. I can't help but think my grandpa was saying, "Hi!" I made sure to point it out to Brenden and explained the thought behind it. Brenden loved it!)