You boys are growing so fast. Don‘t ask me where I‘ve been all these years, but I didn’t truly realize it until I thought about the big things you are doing. I realize that one day your Dad and I will be blessed to see you with babies of your own and prepare to celebrate you as Fathers.
The one man who is missing from this is my father, your “Grandpa M.” His passing when I was 11 years old left an void for me and meant a missing figure in your lives as you grew. In his absence and honor, I want to try to impart some of what he taught me to you.
1) You are not your circumstances. Rise above!
Your grandfather was born in rural Arkansas in the 1930’s. He was the oldest of seven children and a black child in the segregated South. Your grandfather witnessed and experienced cruel and blatant discrimination first hand. He traveled picking crops to make ends meet for his family until he joined the Army at 18 years old to fight in the Korean War. When his service was done, he came home and went straight to work at a meat packing plant, pulling long hours to support his family.
Your grandpa left poverty by will and work. He remembered where he came from, but always strove to do his best. I imagine him saying, in his smooth, Southern drawl, “It doesn’t matter where you’ve been; it only matters where you’re going.”
2) Never stop learning.
Your grandfather didn’t get to go to college or even finish high school. His school was life and he excelled at it. He was blessed with what kids today call, “swagger.” He could mingle amongst the best because he was quick on his feet and a fast study.
Grandpa didn’t just use his gift of gab to get places, though. He was an active learner and never stopped trying to know more. His wish for me was to be the first Muldrew to graduate college. My wish for you all is to make graduation a tradition.
3) Love your family.
Your Grandpa had so much love in his heart. Every day of his life, he let me know he loved me. Your Grandma and Grandpa divorced early in my life, but even in separate houses and states, he was never far. Cards, phone calls, and visits abounded. My favorite game as a little girl was when he’d ask me to tell him a secret. The secret was always, “I love you, Daddy,” followed by a kiss on the cheek to me from him (what he called his “sugar”). Every secret made his eyes dance and every “sugar” made his smile bright. As I was loved, may you and your children always know the same. Pass it on.
I hope these thoughts will help guide you, boys. Unfortunately, only Nathaniel can learn from the source. Baby, when you passed in December, I prayed Grandpa M was who you woke up to see. You are his namesake, and in my absence, I know you’re his everything. Please help him guide me to guide your brothers, my love.
Oh, and tell him the secret again, from all of us down here.