On Saturday evening we were all sitting around the fire pit and roasting marshmallows–you and grandma and mom and dad and the sisters and cousins and I–and were laughing about how competitive mom is even though she’s terrible at sports and how Meagan immediately caught her marshmallows on fire after boasting of her mad s’mores skills. The kids were dancing to an old 70s song they’d never heard, and dad was just trying to keep the house from catching on fire. I asked you to teach me how to juggle–I thought it’d be funny to watch you try–and you took the bean bags, stood up, threw them in the air and let them fall to the ground. You told me that this was my first lesson in juggling–that now I know what happens when you fall. Everything’s okay.
A month ago, I graduated from college. I moved home, started a genealogy blog and signed up to take my teaching exams, but my plan ends there. I haven’t been offered a teaching position, and while I’m glad that the linear pattern of my life–take this exam, read this book, write this essay, start another new semester–is finished, some days I miss the certainty that being a student brings. The sky’s the limit, as they say, but trying to pull together the pieces to become a teacher is overwhelming, and I worry that I won’t get a job for this fall. I’ve started applying for other positions–jobs in research, consulting or business management–that align with my studies, but when I look toward the future, I cannot picture myself in anything other than teaching.
Gramps, thank you for making us laugh so much it aches, for teaching us to not take everything in life so seriously and for reminding us that everything is always going to be okay in the end. Thank you for picking me up from school, teaching me how to make your famous lemonade and taking me to the park on the weekends as a kid. Thank you for standing up for us, coming to our aid when we need you the most and comforting us when we’re sad or hurt. Thank you for sharing family stories and instilling in us a pride in our Polish roots; for the witty banter; for the sarcasm; for teaching us to ride a bike; for buying my textbooks my first semester of college; for telling me that you’re proud of me, especially when I’m feeling discouraged; for showing us the value and importance of hard work; and for loving us exactly as we are.
Most importantly: Gramps, thank you for teaching me that it’s okay to fall and that it’s okay to fail. Now’s the time to keep working toward that teaching position, to keep dreaming big dreams and to seek out every opportunity and experience. If I don’t make it at first, I now know what happens should I fall: everything’s okay.
We don’t say it enough, but we love you infinity and beyond (as Laci would say). Happy Father’s Day.