My Grandpa Taught Me How to Fly
My grandpa taught me how to fly, which is ironic, because anyone who knows him, knows that he really doesn't like to fly. He wanted us to learn things. And to learn them well. So that the things we didn't know did not have a chance to hold us down. So that we had the opportunity to fly.
When I was a child I thought that my grandpa would never die. He was the most alive person I ever knew. He awakened a curiosity in us. He always wanted us to go. To see. To learn. To spread our wings.
He taught me how to drive because it was imperative that all 13 year olds learn.
He would pick me up from school and he'd be sitting in the passenger's seat.
We'd drive around Lake Merced for hours until I made progress. It was like the karate kid, I'd leave upset and annoyed by his patience and he would be ready for another lesson the next week. On the day of my driver's test my grandpa made me take the test in his Expedition. He was teaching me that I could do it. And he didn't even say “I told you so” when I passed it.
After hearing me or my sister say that we were afraid of water, he taught us to swim.
He taught me how to fight, insisting on kick boxing lessons three times a week so that we wouldn't be afraid of anyone else.
He taught me how to ride a bike.
He taught me how to change the brake lights on my car.
He taught me how to enjoy being alone, going to the movies by myself.
He taught me how to look for things. And to be patient. And to be kind.
He taught me that more often than not, there is a solution. He never gave up on broken things.
He taught me about super-super glue.
Not only did he want me to see the world, just like I wanted for myself. He wanted for all of us to have the world.
He taught me to be unafraid and unashamed of the things I loved. As you know, it takes fearlessness for a middle-aged man to sing Backstreet Boys in a falsetto in an arena with a bunch of just-as-enthusiastic tweens.
My grandpa taught me that I would never be too old, too big, or too tired to take jiu jitzu, or to watch cartoons, or to laugh until I was sore. I'll tell you what my grandpa taught me about flying: Be interested in things that make you happy and give you a chance to be better. Show love to people around you. Teach every time there is a lesson to share. Enjoy yourself, doing things you want to do.
So, every time I see any of us spread our wings I'll hear my grandpa's voice, encouraging, pushing, knowing, believing—telling us “go ahead, chick…..fly!”