My grandfather was a tall strapping man with eyes of pure blue, a tongue that would whip your head around and a heart that cracked every time he saw my Grandmother, the woman he affectionately called “Tiny.”
I spent two years living in their home at the age of 9 and 10. My family, having lived in Southern California, had uprooted in 1978 to move to Chicago for a brief time. A cold and dismal place for a girl born in the sunshine; Chicago was a location both me and my sister were eager to put behind us.
My father, a radio man by trade had taken an offer of employment in Illinois. When he got there, he found the many upheavals that follow the radio industry crash down on top of him. I can only imagine how difficult it was for my dad to pack his family into the car and head back home and to the home of his parents in Burbank, CA.
Relationships with grandparents can be complicated and strained as children. We feel they’re “out of touch” while they see us as beating to a drum they just don’t understand.
This defined my relationship with my grandfather when I first moved into his home the summer of 1980.
The Early Days
I was a brash, stubborn and often a pig-headed young girl who had grown accustomed to living a free and carefree life devoid of much responsibility. My grandfather, an ex-navy man would have none of it.
One day early into our living arrangement, I was told to spend time in the yard cleaning up after my dog. Not one to do anything quickly, I spent the next several hours building forts, climbing trees and hopping in the pool with my sister.
At the end of the day my grandfather asked if I’d done what he’d requested. I stated 'no' and that I would get to it in a bit. It was at this point that he shuffled me outside and told me I would not come back into his home until the chore was accomplished. I huffed and puffed and muttered “you’re not my father” under my breath to which he exclaimed – “and you’re darn lucky I’m not.”
That moment was a paradigm shift in my perception of him. This man, who I’d looked upon as an enigma, wasn’t one after all. He was simply a principled man that asked for a job to be done and expected honest work in return.
The Seasons of our Lives
I began to find ways to spend time my grandfather. We would walk to the park or spend a day on the pier in silence, fishing in the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
My grandmother, whom I loved dearly, died over 12 years ago. My grandfather’s heart shattered that day, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2004 that he unexpectedly went to be with her.
I consider myself twice blessed by his “roaming” soul as he spent much time between all of our families in California and Colorado after her passing. There are so many moments I think of them and know that we created a lifetime of precious memories.
So with that I say, Happy Father’s Day to all of the men who are committed to creating those moments each and every day.
About Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.