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.