Not Wholly Gone

This Father’s Day, I have noticed many people acknowledging the ongoing influence of fathers, grandfathers, and other father figures in their lives – even after these men have died.

It is interesting to consider the ways in which, through memory and legacy, a person can continue to be a part of a family even after death.

This evening, my mother shared an anecdote with me to this effect about my paternal grandfather.

My paternal grandfather was Polish and he died in 2015.

In 2016, my mother was visiting Warsaw and recalls taking a city bus back to her hotel.

As she boarded, she asked the driver to indicate her stop to her.

The driver agreed and asked her to sit at the front so that she could hear when her stop was called.

Accordingly, she took a seat next to an elderly gentleman.

When my mother had thought that the driver had called her stop, she prepared to disembark but the driver told her there were still two more stops to go.

As she sat back down, the elderly Polish man smiled at her and grasped her arm in a charming gesture of concern and reassurance.

It was not until my mother stepped off the bus and was walking back to her hotel that she realized how the brief encounter had so much struck her as reminiscent of my grandfather’s touch.

She even phoned my father once she got back to her room to say, “I just had a connection with your father.”

When a person dies, they are not wholly gone.

And the way in which words, gestures, and signs of affection may be recalled bear witness to the longevity of relationships transcending mortality.

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