Yesterday afternoon Dad and I were fortunate to be by Grandpa David’s side in Cincinnati as he took his last breath and passed very peacefully. Just five days prior, Grandpa had called me to say he read an article about a Miami student who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail last year. He was excited to share it with me and said he would stick it in the mail. Despite being very agile with his iPad (he loved that thing), he enjoyed sending newspaper clippings and articles in the mail every now and then. It is more meaningful to receive a piece of physical mail than an email.
Today I am home before heading back to Ohio for the funeral. I had no doubt the article from him would arrive in the mail. He was always prompt about sending letters for any occasion. The last piece of mail I will ever receive from Grandpa David was in my mailbox this afternoon.
Grandpa was supportive and excited for my thru-hike since I first told him about it – asking lots of questions, mostly about my safety on the trail. Grandpa and Grandma had a beautiful and adventurous life together and it was obvious what they were passionate about: each other, family, the arts, travel, exercise and reading. Grandpa filled each day with his passions, up until the very end. He never left Grandma’s side, he did his exercises every day until his final week, and when he passed, symphonic music was playing (a song he could likely name).
Grandpa is an inspiration to live each day doing what you love. Discover your passion and live it. I hope he is proud of me for getting out on the trail. I am proud of the husband, father, and grandfather he was and the legacy he leaves. I know if hiking had been a passion of his, he would not have shied away from the challenge of a thru-hike. He would complete it. In fact, he shared with me his memory of hiking Katahdin when he was 15. He remembered a 13 foot rock pile at the top, which made the 5,267 ft. mountain actually 5,280 feet tall. In that same message he said, “I know you will have a great experience [on the AT] and I wish you god speed and good luck.”
Grandpa adored his art collection, which covers the walls of their apartment. He referred to this collection as his “eye candy.” Sharing information about the different pieces with friends and family always brought him joy. The mountains, trees, flowers and streams are my “eye candy” and I will not take a single day out on the trail for granted.
I love you, Grandpa.