For the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my 6 word stories featured over on my friend Eli’s awesome blog, Coach Daddy. You may remember that we sang his praises back in July—if you haven’t checked this blog out yet, you really should: it’s quite wonderful.
I love the challenge that these posts pose. How do you sum up something that could potentially take pages to write or an hour spent chatting with a friend over coffee in just 6 words? This is especially hard for me as I am known for my posts that are thousands of words, but the process really forces to you think about the real heart of the story that you’re trying to tell.
When I sent my 6 Words submission over to Eli for this month’s post, he generously tossed out the idea of my daughter Zoey joining in as well. I immediately told him she’d love to be a part of it, simply because the prompt was so fun:
Who would you go back in time to hug?
I asked Zoey the question, wondering who a 6-year-old might pick from the past to hug. Would she not understand and pick someone in her immediate family like me or my mom? Or maybe she would choose to hug a fictional character?
While my answer didn’t go too far back—I chose to hug myself at my lowest point last year, a time when I needed it most, for that hug would have offered the promise that everything would be okay—Zoey went further back and wished her hug could be for someone that she and I both unfortunately never had the chance to meet: her great-grandfather.
The other words she chose for her story not only filled my heart, they sent shivers down my spine. When I sent Zoey’s answer over to Eli, I had to share the story behind this heart-warming hug so he knew the context for her 6 words. And because it’s a story that’s chock-full of all the things we’re all about over here on The Nostalgia Diaries—memories and wonder and love and, of course, a hefty dose of nostalgia—it’s a story that I just had to share here, too:
I never met my grandfather, but his memory lives on through stories my mom has told me of him: He loved to laugh. He was tall and handsome and charming and kind. He was hard-working and dedicated and loyal.
His name was Harold, and he was a professional bowler and owned a bowling alley—The Colony—in Toledo, Ohio. My mom would spend hours there as a child, watching him bowl, helping set the pins, and just hanging out in the mustiness and smoke to the sound of pins falling, high fives, and the happy, loud woops of people passing time together.
When my mom was 17, he died of a sudden heart attack. His death left a gaping hole in the community and an even larger one in my mom’s heart.
Growing up, I would get so scared whenever a thunderstorm would be rumbling outside my window, lighting up the sky. My mom would lay next to me and tell me that there was nothing to be frightened by: The thunder merely was my Grandpa Harold, bowling up in heaven, successfully getting a strike. I loved the visual of that, thinking that those thunderstorms were nothing really to worry about, that in a way, it was just my grandfather up above finding a way to say hi.
When Zoey was little, I would tell her this story whenever a thunderstorm would roll in. I passed on the memories of my grandfather my mother shared with me, and in doing so, although I’d never heard his laugh or watched him bowl, keeping these memories alive somehow made me feel connected to this man—someone whose blood courses through my own veins—even though I’d never met him.
The other day, Zoey and I were running into a store as big raindrops splashed on our heads and dripped down our faces. Our hands were slippery as we held them against one another. We heard the faint sound of thunder in the distance, and Zoey pulled on my arm to make us stop. With her free hand, she pointed to the sky.
“Great-grandpa Harold is doing okay today, but that didn’t sound quite like a strike,” she said, and his memory—the one we’ve created of him together—suddenly joined us, present and palpable in Zoey’s pensive, happy moment.
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So when I asked Zoey Eli’s question, this was her 6 word answer:
Great-grandpa Harold: He makes rain happy.
My Grandpa Harold would have loved her so very, very much, and I’m sure he’s up there somewhere, smiling, happy to know that he’s playing a part to ensure that his great-granddaughter isn’t fearful whenever a storm comes her way, happy to know he did the same for me.
Talk about leaving a legacy.
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So in as many words as you want (or only 6 words if you’d like!), I’d love to know: Who would you go back in time and hug?
At The Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.