Losing my grandfather at 17 was one of the first and hardest grief experiences of my life. However, looking back on the experience, I’ve realized that he instilled in me so much wisdom and musical passion that I now cherish and share with those around me.
My grandfather lived in the same town as I grew up in, so naturally we spent a lot of time together as I was growing up. One of the first concepts I ever learned from him was strategy. He taught me how to play chess at the age of 6. As I got older, I got better and started to beat him. That’s how good of a teacher he was. His lesson in strategy taught me to think situations through to their completion. That skill is essential in my line of work in healthcare operations.
When Poppo used to pick me up from school, there would always be classical music playing in his car. He would steer with one hand, and conduct with the other. He knew pretty much every musical number the radio played and would hum along accordingly. When I started playing piano, he never missed a recital or a chance to hear me play.
Over 20 years later, and I’m still playing piano for the love of the music. Classical music, like his, is also one of my favorite genres to listen to and attend concerts for. Music is always an outlet I will remember him fondly through.
While the grief was heartbreaking, it taught my teenage self what it meant to really love someone. In losing him, it changed my perspective of what death meant. His death showed me that those we love who pass on, live on within us in our day-to-day lives in a variety of ways. Music and strategy is what I carry from him every day.