It's what I missed

Tucked down a dirt road in Northern Minnesota, along the bank of the Rum River, is my family's Ranch.

Acres of wide open spaces.  Golden fields.  Barns full of treasures.

It's been a part of my family since before I was born.

Some of my best and earliest memories are from weekends at the Ranch.

Snowmobiling, Christmases, Nearly Drowning in the Jacuzzi.

It's where my Grandpa lived and the entire place is swimming with his spirit.

I have memories of times with him and the ranch up until about age 12.

And then something seemed to happen.

I know what that something is.

I became a self absorbed teenager who thought I was too good to spend time with my family.

The beauty of this place and the people it represents was lost on the 13 year old version of myself.

And then I went from spoiled, bratty me to self destructive, drug addicted me.

If my family wasn't important to me before, they were even further from my mind in my late teens. 

My darkest days.

My parents saved my life by shipping me off to Georgia for a fresh start.  Far away from the friends (and I use that term loosely) who were quickly killing me.

And in that last ditch effort to save my life, I found myself 1200 miles south of the Ranch.

Most of you know that my amazing Grandpa, or Papa Moose as he's known to my kids, passed away a couple of months ago.

The kids and I spent most of August in Minnesota.

Surrounded by family, mourning our loss.

I miss him terribly.

I know I will for the rest of my life.

But while I walked around The Ranch, it wasn't so much his dying that I was sad about.

After all, I knew where he was and Heaven was surely celebrating.

It was the realization of all I had missed, the things that would no longer be possible, that made me weep.

How many trips Up North did I pass over?

Can I count the card games I missed?

The laughs, the memories, the stories that I am not a part of?

I learned that my Grandpa had been a Marine at his 80th birthday party.

I'm certain I was the only Grandchild that didn't know that.

He was amazing and I only realized it a few years ago.

Josie knew.

She knew the second she laid eyes on him.  I'm grateful that whatever bond I missed out on seemed to have been double portioned between the two of them.

I hope he knows how much I love him.

That if I could go back, I would in an instant.

I'd drive Up North every weekend and let him drive me around on the pontoon boat.

I'd even learn to play Smear if he wanted me to.

God, Please let the value of family not be lost on my children.  Help me to instill a deep love for each and every one of their adoring grandparents.  Don't let Josie and Gabriel break their hearts with bad decisions.  Don't let them find themselves looking back on all they missed.  And God, please tell my Grandpa I'm sorry.  And the last 4 years, making real memories with him, will be my most cherished memories.


kimmer said...

Awesome...and thank you.

Anonymous said...

I can so relate- my grandpa passed in December & I know there was so many times that I could have & should have been there. No matter what though, when someone we love passes, we always have regrets.

Beth said...

Nicole<this is so sweet and so sad! I hope my children make much better decisions than I do too! Please don't beat yourself up over the past. How happy he must have been to see you go from struggling teen to adoring Mom! It's all part of your story and your witness. Unfortunately some of us have to learn things the hard way:) Maybe we can spare our children our own hurts! Don't let the hurt of yesterday steal your joy today! You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now:)

Emma said...

i have goosebumps. beautiful!!

kimmer said...

Oh....and after reading what Beth said...I must comment again and tell you that I know for a definite fact that your Grampa was so proud of you and the way you turned your life around and have become such an amazingly loving and beautiful young woman and mom! He was So Proud of YOU!