My grandfather was a good man. I could pretend to tell you that I knew this firsthand because of some fantastic relationship we had. Maybe I could draft a narrative about some fishing trips, or how I told him about my first kiss, or about how he described my dad when he was my age. The truth is, I can't. I barely knew the guy. The truth is, I couldn't have know him. He lived halfway across the world from this place, and it's hard to travel that far. He came here once, when I was little with my grandmother. I was really small then. I only remember how funny my very Indian grandparents looked in winter caps and mismatched parkas in the bitter gully of winter. I have the picture, I guess.
Aside from that, my father and grandfather were estranged from each other for a very long time. I've only heard tidbits about my father's childhood from what my mom sneaks me in hushed tones every now and again when my dad is napping, or we're driving in the car. As a result, I haven't been very close to my fathers side of the family until recently.
I would ask my father about my grandfather sometimes. It was hard for me to get words out of my dad. It still is. But, when he actually talked about it with me, he said my grandfather was honest, and that he was stern, and that he respected him. He never said that he loved my grandfather, but I'm pretty sure he did. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like talking about it, either.
I understand why my father and his father don't get along so much. They're very much alike. I'm like them, in some ways at least, too. They're stubborn and extremely ethical. They are hard working and driven. Neither of them are funny, but they both love laughing. Their tempers are fierce. They both hug awkwardly (though my dad is better now) and say "my son"--or its hindi translation--in mid embrace. They are so similar it doesn't surprise me that they fought. They were trying to be the same guy. It's the same reason my father and I argue.
I don't dream very often. I almost consider it a blessing when I actually remember my dreams. Usually I remember dreams about women. Other than that, I only remember nightmares. Rather, I should say that I remember one nightmare, I have one that comes back every few years. In it, my dad dies. They're the only times I every wake up crying. It took a great amount of deliberation to realize why this dream bothered me so much; I want to be my dad. Even though he has serious flaws, my dad is an amazing person. He's accomplished a tremendous amount in his life. If he had a better draw from the get go, he would be much more accomplished than he is now.
Anyway. The guy's my hero. And needless to say, the thought of losing your heroes is scary.
Anyway, back to my grandfather. I do know him in a way, because he and my father are so similar. Knowing my father, by transitivity, I know him. But also by transitivity, if I lose my grandfather, I lose part of my father. Which is the scary part. Part of my father is gone now, which will never come back. My memories won't come back, his body won't come back. All that really lives on of his is my father. And I suppose through part of me, too. I would only be so lucky though, because my grandfather was a good man.