My grandpa recently passed away. Although he never really figured out how to read my blog (being tech-savvy was not one of his strong suits), I remember when I showed it to him the first time he said “Hey! That’s pretty neat little girl” and if you knew my grandpa you know exactly how he said it.
I debated sharing this because I don’t really know if sharing your grief on the internet is entirely necessary, but I really just felt the need to share the story of the incredible man that was my Grandpa with as many people as possible.
Harold Williams always had a story to tell. When he was younger he really lived a wild life. I think those stories are definitely meant to be kept in the family haha. But the story of how we ended up in California, how my mom and aunt ended up at the Naval Academy, how my brother and I were able to succeed in the way we have, that story can be traced directly back to my Grandpa.
To just skim the surface my Grandpa met my Grandma (an equally incredible woman) in Georgia when they were young, they fell in love and had a baby, my mom. In order to provide for his family in the way that he felt they deserved he enlisted in the Navy. Even after he enlisted in the Navy he would still work jobs on the side to make sure that my Mom and Grandma had everything they ever needed. After some time had past, and the birth of there second daughter (my aunt), they moved to California for new opportunities.
This hopeful young black family got a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood. Shortly after they moved in some people in the neighborhood were furious about there presence their and burned a cross into my grandparents yard. They literally threw a cross burning party in my grandparents front yard. Harold Williams never told anyone about what had happened, until one day at work when a group of white officers made comments that racism was not a problem in California and he just couldn’t stay quiet any more. My Grandpa protected his family, his home, and himself, all while continuing to be a respectful neighbor (granted this man would have had a REAL problem if anyone touched a hair on his wife or daughters heads).
Even with these worries at home he managed to work his way up through the Navy and eventually became the highest rank possible for an enlisted service member, a Master Chief. Despite every possible odd he still managed to succeed.
He managed to get two girls into the Naval Academy. He had a second successful career post-Navy. He was the best Papa to my brother and I that we could have ever asked for. I mean this man came with us on endless Disney trips, let us eat churro’s for dinner, and let us do back flips off of his stomach.
My grandpa’s work ethic is the reason why I am what I am today. Whenever I think about things getting hard, I think about him and the things he overcame and I know I will be ok. I am so grateful for everything he ever did for me. I know that he might have been a little nervous when I explained to him that I was leaving school for 9 months to move to Disney World, but when he came to visit for Christmas he was the first person at the front desk trying to use his phone to take pictures. When I got the chance to visit him one last time at the hospital, I was so excited to be able to tell him that I landed my first full time job in my field. I literally feel like I could see the relief on his face that he knew that I was going to be ok.
So I just wanted to share that story of a wonderfully good man who taught me so much, because he deserves to be remembered by as many people as possible.
And A few sweet comments on Grief:
“My mom taught me to never be afraid to mention someone that has passed away. The family has not forgotten, and they want to remember the person they’ve lost. When my mom comes home from a funeral, she’ll make a note in her calendar for six months later, as a reminder to call or write to her friend. This is often when the rest of the world has move on and the grieving person feels most alone.” — Rachel
“I once saw an Annie Leibovitz exhibit where she had hung photos of her dying love Susan Sontag, and then her dying father, and her grieving family, alongside these gorgeous vibrant photos of her babies with spaghetti all over their faces and splashing in wading pools… That’s how grief works. For a while, it takes over your whole field of vision, but then it becomes a part of the whole exhibit.” — Heather
“Since we aren’t religious, I was struggling with how to explain death to our daughter. Then someone gave me great advice: ask the child what he/she thinks happens when people die. No matter what they say, tell them that might be exactly what happens because no one knows for sure. My daughter is now convinced that my grandfather is in a beautiful place surrounded by pear trees.” — Lana
Bendolyn Williams says
Very well done. Papa would be proud!
Absolutely magnificent. Impactful.