A few years ago, my grandfather passed away.

He died from all the horrible complications associated with dementia, and it was incredibly painful to watch him deteriorate.

My grandfather was a master craftsman. He was a builder, spending most of his life building houses all around Kansas. My uncle has said he could frame a house taking only a couple of measurements.

My memories of him and his big red Ford pickup include a camper filled with tools. One time I got to drive the truck, and he had me drive a little faster than normal on the backroads of Montgomery County to “blow out the cobwebs.” It wasn’t until after he passed that, upon telling my father this, dad told me blowing out a supposed accumulation of cobwebs from a truck’s exhaust wasn’t really a thing. My grandfather gave me an excuse to speed with a little help of plausible deniability.

He intentionally sent me out thrill-seeking and I didn’t even realize it.

That big red Ford came with all sorts of memories. He would take my sister and I fishing in it, and we’d sit forever (to a kid that probably 45 minutes) and hope for the big catch. I remember the sound of those tools rattling around in the back, his glasses that would get dark in the sun, and his cowboy boots pressing on the gas pedal.

I miss my grandpa (thankfully his wife – Grandmama as my girls know her – is still alive). I miss my other grandparents, too. I pull such sweet memories from my 36-year-old brain sometimes. At times I can’t help it – a certain smell, or a stroll through an antique store might bring back memories of the past. Sometimes it seems like those I’ve lost are right beside me; like I could reach out and talk to them.

But of course, I cannot. Those days are past.

Now I delight in my responsibility to provide wonderful experiences, so my children will have something to take with them on their journey. While gifts and things can be fun, those things fade and become faint in the mind. But experiences and everyday little things can become etched in stone. That is my duty; ensure the good memories overcome the bad ones.

And someday, when the time comes, I’ll make sure my girls get the chance to blow out the cobwebs … just like I did.

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