But You Never Knew Him

posted in: Family Ties, Love | 54

You talk about him quite often.

But you never knew him.

You recognize him in photographs.

But you never knew him.

You include him in your prayers.

But you never knew him.

You sometimes reveal a little smile that has just a breath of the one he used to give me.

But you never knew him.

You would have gotten “the look” from him on many an occasion. And you would have towed the line when that happened. Trust me.

But you never knew him.

Yet you also would have made the apples of his cheeks protrude with the pride and joy he felt for all of us who felt safe standing in his shadow.

But you never knew him.

He would have loved you and your funny ways. Loved those hugs of yours that come with a running start. Loved your wacky dances. Loved your toothless grin. And he most certainly would have had a nickname for you. Something like “Muckel Jay” or “Mike the Tyke.”

in memoriumBut you never knew him.

Still, you act like you did.

When his name is the first one you think to write down on your paper for All Souls’ Day…

…you act like you knew him.

When I say, “You know who hated strawberries?” and you say, “Dooda”…

…you act like you knew him.

When, out of the blue, you draw an amazing picture of a tank and tell me you made it to put on his grave, the man who always had a war story to tell…

…you act like you knew him.

Maybe I talk about him more than I realize. Maybe the family lore of this man who was our hero is that strong and present. Or maybe he whispers to you when the rest of us are not listening. Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you before you became ours…so that he could still be ours, too.

in memorium
Visiting Great-Grandpa, a.k.a. “Dooda.” My daughter was the only great-grandchild he ever got to meet, but somehow I think he and my son are good friends.

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54 Responses

  1. This got me a little teary!
    What a beautiful post 🙂

  2. Possibly my favorite post of yours… xoxo

  3. No words right now other than BEAUTIFUL, because I am crying too hard!!

  4. My son always wants me to tell him about his great-grandfather. Since the man died when I was two, there’s not much for me to say.

  5. Beautiful post, very touching x

  6. Gorgeous!

  7. Anne Nestor Blind

    Wow oh Wow Kelly! So beautiful! I like to think there is a little bit of him in Michael. It is weird because he was the next to be born after we lost “Dooda”. I can just see them sitting in heaven together having a little conversation about our family, and then he sent him on his way! You know Matt used to talk about Nana all the time when he was little as if he knew her, He too was the next to be born after we lost her… Coincidence ???

  8. Aw, Kelly, you’ve got me all teared up. I love this so much I can’t even tell you. It’s beautiful. And I get it. I swear my son and my nephew both met my brother. I like to think that before they were born, they met him. But I love how you say it, “Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you” I LOVE that. (How many times can I say “love” in a comment? ‘Cause I do. Love it, I mean.)

    • Wouldn’t that be amazing if God did that? To help us carry on without our loved ones…to make it easier? And you can use the word love as much as you want. There is never too much love.

  9. Kudos to you for keeping his memory alive.

  10. What a wonderful post. My oldest son was born a few months after my dad passed away, so they never met, but my son knows of him, just like what you write about. I truly believe that my dad and son have a strong bond (they look very alike) and it warms my heart so incredibly much. I can see it does the same for your heart!

    • That is so sweet. You know your dad has to be his special angel. Thanks so much for your comment. I love that this kind of thing seems to touch so many people.

  11. I love what you did. In one of my Writing 101 assignments, I wrote about my grand father whom I never met. I’m sure if Dooda got to read this, he’d be truly elated.

  12. Next week will be a year since my grandpa died and I feel so lucky that my kids got to know him a little. Not enough but at least enough to have a sense of him. I do believe that we are so connected to each other that people we never got to meet are a part of us, like your son and your grandpa. I just love this. 🙂

    • Thanks…and so sorry about your grandpa. My kids have been lucky to know so many of their great-grandparents. My daughter knew 7 of the 8 on both sides of the family…though she was only two when the grandfather I spoke of in this post died. I don’t know how many real memories she has of him, but we tell her stories all the time about how happy she made him, how she gave him his nickname of “Dooda,” and how she was the one who got his very last smile before he died. I love that he knew her on this earth, but I have no doubt he knows my son, my two nieces, and the baby my cousin is expecting up in Heaven. He is their special angel.

  13. Really touched, thanks for sharing. His spirit lives on.

  14. Really nice. Really pretty. I won’t say gorgeous, because someone beat me to it and I don’t want to be “that girl.” Love! 🙂

  15. And that is the power of storytelling. You kept the legacy of him alive by telling his stories.

  16. kerilynnturney

    Its so strange, I had just written on facebook that my mother died before she got to be a grandmother. Reading your post made me realize that I can introduce her to my children anytime I want. Thank you!

    • Your comment just made my heart so happy. SO happy. To know that some little thoughts that popped into my head while visiting my grandpa at the cemetery could make someone realize something so touching…wow. Thank you for sharing that with me.

  17. I am grateful that my son has been able to get his great-grandfather. He is a navy WWII vet and my son is obsessed with all things military (see pic in this post: http://bierem.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/happy-army-day/)
    He also has my uncle Sam who is an Iraq vet who he has formed a close relationship with. It is so important for him to see these kind, brave men.

  18. So moving, Kelly. I so wish my children could have really known my grandparents!

    • I feel very blessed that my kids knew as many of my and my husband’s grandparents. Grace knew 7 of the 8, and Michael has known 6 of the 8. My dad’s parents and one of my husband’s grandmother’s are still living, and I love that my kids have had so much time with them, enough to have their OWN memories. Thankfully we have our stories to help them know how amazing the others were, the ones who died before they were born or while they were very little.

      • I had strong, good relationships with my great grandparents, and I’m so sorry my own kids didn’t have that opportunity. It really is a blessing! How wonderful for your children and your family! xo

      • I was close with all of my great grandparents– and knew 2 ggrandmothers well into my 20s! It’s sad that my kids didn’t have the same. How special for you, your kids and your entire family, to have that connection! xo

  19. This is beautiful, and made me cry. Thanks so much for sharing. My grandfather was one of my best friends, and I’m sad that my children will never know him. He never got to meet any of his great-grandchildren. I hope the stories I tell my son about him will make him “act like he knew him” someday, too.

  20. Reblogged this on Little Man of the House and commented:
    This is an absolutely beautiful post. I feel sad often that Little Man never knew his great-grandfather, my mom’s dad, who was the model of everything good in humanity. I’m sitting here crying now after reading a post that captures my thoughts on this so beautifully.

  21. That’s so sweet! Thanks so much for sharing it! 🙂

    • Kelly Suellentrop

      Thanks for hosting the link up! I still need to read some of the posts!

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