To My Grandfather

Shortly before I learned my grandfather passed yesterday, coincidentally enough,  I wrote an essay about him. I have decided to share some of it here, to serve as a memorial to the man I counted as my confidant, one of my biggest influences, and my friend.

“My grandfather is synonymous with the smells of blackboard chalk and coffee, with the immortal green sweater he never takes off and his raspy, weathered voice. His hands are gnarled by arthritis and sometimes when he laughs his smile glints gold. He is a scholar, a professor, an astronomer, a jokester, and a guardian of all he takes under his wing. He is my friend, my inspiration. 

When I was little, I saw my grandfather as a gateway to the stars. With a room full of telescopes, model trains, and intricate maps of the solar system, he would engage my imagination with stories of the constellations and the quiet click of train tracks being put together. I can remember begging him to let me into his office just so I could sit near his desk on a rug that was covered in flaming stars and wispy galaxies, tracing my fingers across the woven strands of light with wonder.

As I grew older, I spent many warm summer days attempting to learn how to read ancient Babylonian tablets, with my grandfather as my guide. As one of seven people in the world who could read the aged texts, he was an expert, and I was an eager disciple. The tales he told of the young scribes who had made the tablets enchanted me. While the content of these texts was not in my interest: countless calculations and notations of stars’ positions and various eclipses, I was hooked. One afternoon, we ended our lesson gazing at an interactive map of the skies the Babylonians would have seen. We sat in silence, looking at virtual celestial bodies and enjoying each others’ company. After a while, my grandfather turned to me with a smile.

‘I think that when we die we all get stars,” he said warmly, “and I’ll bet ours will be really bright.’

I know now that my grandfather’s star is already shining brightly, and no disease can dim its ethereal glow. I cherish the close relationship I had with him, and all the lessons I learned from him. I know that he will be supporting me as I go through the rest of my life without him, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful. I miss you already, Grandpa, I love you.




Family Ties

What better way to start off the new year than to celebrate familial relationships? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that my relationship with my family is the most constant  bond that I will ever have. From my large extended family to my parents and sisters, I am grateful to have a steady support system of people who love me no matter what.

Since prehistoric times, the world’s first hunting/gathering tribes were based around the nuclear family. Some of the most famous deities in the world, the Greek and Roman Gods, are also an extended, albeit problematic, family. Take a look at diverse forms of modern media like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Downton Abbey, and you can find one thing in common. Are you sensing a theme here?

While family structures have changed a lot over time, fluctuating between extended patriarchal lineages to tight-knit, unconventional groups of relatives, the thing that has always stayed the same is the bond between members. Though at times families can be wrought with conflict and confusion, blood is thicker than water, and that has been proven time and again.

I am so thankful for every member of my family. I can always count on my grandparents to give me advice and wisdom, and to remind me that my problems are minimal in the grand scheme of things. My little sisters keep me playful and light-hearted. My aunts and uncles take me on adventures and lead me to try new things, like climbing mountains or tasting weird ice creams. My parents are my guardians, the people who comfort me and push me towards my goals. And my extended family, the network of cousins and great-aunts and uncles scattered across the country, love me from a distance.

Out of all the families in the world,  mine is for sure my favorite. So as I head into 2017, I am looking forward to spending more time with my relatives and taking advantage of the wonderful relationships I have with them. To my most present, unshakable, loving relations, thank you!