today, I blog about grandpa.

As most of you know, my grandpa passed away right before Christmas this last December.
To be honest, I've avoided blogging about the events and emotions surrounding that time.
And on a daily basis, I even avoid thinking about it.
But there is a story in my heart that wants to be free.
 I feel this story, full of emotions, weighing heavier on me every day.
It wants to be told.
But as I've sat down multiple times to write this story, I am frustrated by the words that won't flow and by the tears that do.

But today, as I write, I will not try to mold the story in a way that is fitting for me or for readers.
I will let the story tell itself, and my fingers will merely be the instrument in which it is told.
 I will let the story be unedited, unmolded.
I will let the story be free.
I will let the tears flow.
Because this story is not for me.
It is for grandpa.

Grandpa Davis was the only grandpa I ever knew.
There was always something sensitive in the fact that he was our only grandpa.
And we really got lucky.
He was the most loving, involved, and funny grandpa.

In my mind, grandpa is found in his chair.
Reading a newspaper or watching tv.
But as soon as I bound the corner as a little girl, his arms are out, ready to embrace me, hold me on his knee and make me giggle.
I snuggle into him and smell his fresh after-shave smell and the coffee lingering on his breath.
I ask him to play on the back patio with me.
He stands up, clears his throat, and follows me outside.
He asks me silly questions that always warrant silly answers.
He watches me play and always entertains my imagination.
After a few minutes, he sticks his head into the door.
I hear him yell, "Mom, can you get us some lemonade?"
I look up at him and ask, "Why do you call Grandma Mom? She's not your mom!" I giggle at the absolute silliness of this thought.
He smiles down at me and says, "Because she'll always be a mom.  And she's a great mom."

Grandpa gets me a pogo-stick for Christmas.
He takes me outside and teaches me how to use it.
I fall and he catches me.
I finally jump...one..two..three!
He claps and sings his familiar song, "Anything you can do, I can do better! I can do anything better than you!"
And I chime in my part of the song (Grandpa has trained us well): "No you can't!'
Him: "Yes, I can!"
The song is the essence of grandpa.

I am in fifth grade.
I run for student body president and win.
Grandpa is there.
He hands me flowers and tells me how proud he is of his little president.
"Will you be the next president of the United States?" he asks, with a twinkle in his eye.
"No, Grandpa! I'm only in fifth grade!" I laugh at the thought!

I am in seventh grade.
I run for student body president again and win.
When Grandpa hears the news he says, "My little president is president again! What do you think? Will you run for President of the United States?"
I smile again, and tell him "Of course not!"

I decide to join the track team.
Grandpa runs every day.
And I want to be like grandpa.
I practice hard.
It is my first meet.
I look up and see Grandpa in the stands.
He is excited to be there.
He smiles and gives me a thumbs up.
I have butterflies and I can't stand still.
The gun sounds.
I run.
But others run faster.
I keep thinking, "Make Grandpa proud! Keep running! Faster!"
I finish in third place.
I am defeated.
I can't meet Grandpa's eyes.
When I meet him in the stands, he hugs me and says, "Did you see how fast those legs were moving? I am so proud!"
I made Grandpa proud?
Even in third place, I feel like a winner.

I am a freshman in high school.
I play a game of skip-bo with him.
I beat him.
I sing to him, "Anything you can do, I can do better! I can do anything better than you!"
He smiles and takes my place in the song, "No you can't!"
Me: "Yes, I can!"

I am a junior in high school.
Grandpa asks me if I will run for president again.
I say, "No, I'm done with that.  Too much stress."
"But how will you be president of the United States? You need experience!"
A few months later, I pass an election table at lunch.
I sign up to run for president--for grandpa.
I run for president and I win.
When Grandpa hears the news, he says, "What made you change your mind, my little president?"
"I decided I want to be President of the United States," I say with a wink.
He smiles and winks back, "You've got my vote!"

I am 18 years old, away at college, away from home, away from grandpa.
I am homesick and lonely.
I walk out of class and have a missed call from grandpa.
"Just calling to say hi! I know college can be hard--but you just stick with it. You just keep smiling. And you call me if you need anything. Anything at all! I sure love you, Kelli!"
I cry as I walk home.
How did he know that I needed to hear that?

I am 20 years old.
For the first time, I see the play Annie Get your Gun.
I hear the song, "Anything you can do I can do better!"
I sit there, mouth open.
I never knew where the song was from; I had never thought to ask.
I always assumed it was just "Grandpa's song."
I call Grandpa and tell him he tricked me--I thought he made it up!
He laughs and says it never crossed his mind to clarify!

I am 22 years old.
It is the week before Thanksgiving.
I have a feeling to call grandma&grandpa.
I tell myself I will call tomorrow.
I forget to call.
I have another feeling to call.
But I am busy and I forget again.
I am driving to L.A. for my cousin's wedding.
I have the feeling again.
I call grandma&grandpa.
We talk about my job, about plans for the future, about how excited we are to see each other in three weeks, and we laugh.
I tell grandma and grandpa I love them.
It is the last time I talk to Grandpa.

Two weeks later, my siblings and I randomly decide to get together.
We meet at my brother's house and play games.
We receive a text from our other sister.
Grandpa has had a heart attack.
Things don't look good.
We cry together.
We pray together.
Is it chance we are all together on this Saturday?
I don't think so.

I go home that night and sob in my bed.
I plead with Heavenly Father to keep him alive until I get home.
 I will be home in two weeks!
I want to hold his hand.
I want to tell him how much I love him.

My sister facetimes me while in the hospital with Grandpa.
He is in a medically-induced-coma.
But I can see him.
I tell him a joke.
And I tell him I love him.
I tell him to hold on until I get there.
I'll be home in 10 days.

It is December 20th.
I am coming home from the gym when I receive the word that Grandpa is being taken off of life support.
I sit in my car and sob.
I will be home in three days.
I feel lonely all night.
I want Grandpa to know how much I love him.
I don't feel peace, or calm, or any sense of justice.

My eyes are red the next morning.
My heart hurts.
I don't let myself think about it.
I start to put my make-up on, and then I sob.
The sobs come from deep within my body.
Do you know how much I love you, Grandpa?
And then I feel it.
An overwhelming peace.
He knows.
I find out later that he passed just hours before I receive this feeling.
I know he comforted my heart that morning.

I don't cry again.
I am afraid to cry.
I am afraid to feel loss and sorrow.
I go home to California.
I do not let myself think of Grandpa.
I push every thought, feeling, memory to the very bottom, and I refuse to let it surface.

It is December 28th.
I go with my dad to help my grandma clean out my Grandpa's clothes.
Tears threaten to spill over.
I let myself cry.
But I do not let myself think.
I do not let myself think that I am in Grandpa's house--and Grandpa is supposed to be here.
I do not let myself think that the clothes smell so much like Grandpa.
I do not let myself think that the newspaper still sits in his chair--and Grandpa should be reading it.
I do not want to feel.
I am afraid to feel.

I am emotionally exhausted after cleaning out Grandpa's belongings.
I decide to go for a long run.
I push feelings and emotions even farther down.
I refuse to think.
I refuse to feel.
Suddenly, I feel a wet drop on my arm.
Is it raining?
But the sky is clear.
I feel my cheeks--I am surprised that they are wet.
I wouldn't let my mind or heart cry--but that didn't matter; my soul cried anyway.
My soul wanted to cry, to mourn, and to love the wonderful grandpa I missed so dearly.
I run harder.
But this time, I let myself think.
I let myself feel.
And I feel sorrow, pain, and sadness.
I cry harder.
And then, I hear a song, "Anything you can do, I can do better.
I can do anything better than you."
Grandpa is here.
He is with me.
Running next to me.
It was as real as the last time I spoke to him.
I sing my line, out loud, between uneven breaths and sobs, "No, you can't!"
"Yes, I can!"
And then I feel comfort, peace, and the love of my grandpa as he whispers in my ear, "I love you, my little president."


  1. WOW. What a touching post...I am so glad you were able to write this and share how amazing your grandfather was and how he's still a part of you today! He sounds like what every grandfather should be: supportive, loving, encouraging...what a lucky girl you are to have had this kind of role model!

    1. he really was the best grandpa! thanks, jess.

  2. This post was so beautifully written. Grandparents are just so special. So sorry for your loss.
    xo TJ


  3. I got teary eyed reading this! You're a great writer and I totally understand the feeling of only having one Grandpa you've ever known.. So sorry for your loss! xoxo


    1. thanks, jordan! Having only one grandpa makes it just a little bit harder. xoxo

  4. i got tears in my eyes reading this...beautiful really. i love that we both have grandpa Davis. they sure are the best!

    1. grandpa davis' are really the best, aren't they? :)

  5. Mine passed yesterday morning so I am still just heartbroken. But I know eventually I will be to this point!

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, tiffany! Know that it gets easier, and we get to see our loved ones again one day!

  6. Kelli, I just met your grandpa last year and could tell he was a great man. So sorry for your loss, yet so happy that you had such a wonderful support throughout your life. Thank you for sharing your feelings, and may you continue to be encouraged and comforted by his memory.

  7. Kelli, I just met your grandpa last year and could tell he was a great man. So sorry for your loss, yet so happy that you had such a wonderful support throughout your life. Thank you for sharing your feelings, and may you continue to be encouraged and comforted by his memory.

    1. thank you so much! it means a lot! he really was a great man.

  8. This is so beautiful Kelli, thank you for sharing!

  9. This is so beautiful Kelli, thank you for sharing!

  10. You have a beautiful way with words, Kelli! I am sorry for your loss yet isn't it so great to have people we love so much that we hate to lose them?

    1. thanks, cady! I totally agree with you! I heard a quote once: "to take sorrow out of death would mean to take love out of life." you're totally right!

  11. This was so touching! I was tearing up as I read the whole thing. I am so, so sorry you have to go through this. Losing a grandparent is one of the hardest things. Praying for your family!

    1. thanks, katie! it definitely is hard--but it helps to feel so much love from everyone!

  12. I feel for you, girlie. I went through a similar loss right before Christmas and it was SO hard. What a beautiful tribute though. Big hugs from Texas!

    1. thanks so much, sara! it's always hard to experience something like this, but it makes it easier knowing so many people go through the same thing, and we can all relate!

  13. I was okay until "it is the last time I talk to grandpa" because you made me think of the last time I talked to/saw him. Then I cried. I miss him so much! Good thing we know we will see him again one day! Love you xoxo

    1. I miss him so much too, M! I'm so excited for our reunion with him. xoxo

  14. Well I lost it while reading this post. I never had a grandpa to know, so to hear other people's stories really touches my heart! But love from Virginia! He seemed like a great man!

    1. he really was a great man! thanks, kristie!

  15. This is a beautiful post. I love the relationship you had with your Grandfather. I appreciate his respect, support, encouragement and love of you so, so much. I'm so sorry for your loss. This really is a stunning tribute.

  16. Ahh now I am going to sob. Wow, just wow. Thank you for loving your grandfather so much. It just shows how important family really is.

    1. thanks, brianna! family is really so important!

  17. Teared up during this, what precious memories you have with him. He sounds like an amazing man! Glad I found your blog! Thanks for the reminder to appreciate moments with those we love. Hope you continue to find peace and comfort.

  18. Thank you for sharing your story! It really touched me and had me shedding many tears on your behalf! What a special connection you have together. My heart goes out to you. Xoxo

    1. thanks, sidne! we really did have special connection! I sure miss him, but seeing so much love from you and others helps!

  19. I'm so sorry about your Grandfather. I cannot imagine how difficult this must all be. Thinking of you and your family.

  20. Wow, this made me cry. What a beautiful post. You were so blessed with so many memories with such a wonderful Grandpa.

  21. This was such a beautiful post!! He sounds like a great man. So sorry for your loss and I know the weight of those words don't even scratch the surface. Pray you continue to find the peace in those moments where you feel him there!