This is Oran Cecil Thomas.
He was my grandfather, my only grandfather. He had a crooked smile and a habit of jangling the change in his pants pocket. At his funeral we ran out of chairs and people stood in the back of the church listening to the pastor speak of faith and perseverance, and the song “The Old Rugged Cross.” I watched from the front row as one-by-one they filed past his body and paid their respects. He laid in his coffin, always to be 59, looking like a waxed version of the man who I called my “laughing buddy.” His body had been plagued by asthma, diabetes, and finally congestive heart failure. I cannot recall one time where I heard him complain, but I do remember him always whistling.
I wonder sometimes if I would have taken him for granted had he lived longer. Did my appreciation for his humble love only develop because he died? I loved my grandpa. I adored him would be a more accurate way of putting it. Oran was not a big man, but he was strong where it mattered. His strength is what most admired about him. Well… that, and his rose bushes.
I’m not much of a whistler, but the idea remains the same. Life can be hard, despite the millions of optimistic euphemisms which attempt to deter the attention away from that, it’s the truth. Sometimes life just sucks, to put it less delicately. Recently I’ve found myself graduated from college (how that happened I have no clue), and I now stand here amazed at just how far away I am from where I had wished I’d be five years ago. I’m overwhelmed now by the endless options of what I can go and do, and frustrated that none of them seem to be really calling my name. I find that I keep searching for something like a clothing tag, something that says “See reverse side for care.” But I keep coming up gipped.
So in the end it’s times like these that I think of my grandpa, and I follow in his lead. There wasn’t much he could do about some of the things he was handed in his life, he didn’t act like he carried all the answers, nor did he give up either. Instead he whistled.