A gift is the act of giving to another person without expectation of payment. As a child, gifts mean presents at Christmas and birthdays. However, as you grow older you realize that can be relationships, conversations, or just a moment in time. My granddad, John Douglas Cooper, was the greatest gift I ever received.  

My granddad was and is still my hero today.  I am one of those fortunate people who had amazing grandparents. My fraternal grandparents took me on picnics, road trips, played dress up, had tea, yoga with me and gave me some of the best childhood memories a child could ever ask for. I spent many summer days with them going on adventures and learning life lessons. Even as a young girl, I was always a little closer to my grandad than my granny. He called me his “Miss America” and was always my partner when we played Wahoo, Spades, or Mexican Train. He instilled in me a competitive spirit that I still find coming out today. He also made sure that I valued church and my faith was strong. He would sit on the back porch with me and we would have deep and meaningful conversations or just soak up the silence and each other’s company.

He is the one who taught me how to drive (sorry to everyone who shares the road with me now) and when I graduated high school he sold that same truck he taught me to drive in so he could buy me my first laptop.  

When I began dating my now husband he was also the person whose approval I was most needed. His opinion was of the utmost importance to me and I knew after our first game playing night that my grandfather approved. Just so you know my grandad still was my partner in all our games because, no offense to my husband, you couldn’t break apart the dream team. Anyways, From a very young age I had always said that I wanted my grandfather to walk me down the aisle. Don’t worry, my dad officiated the ceremony so there weren’t any jealousy issues. As soon as I was engaged I officially asked him to be the one who walked me down the aisle. It was a very special moment and he was more than happy to have that honor. My wedding also turned out to be the last trip my grandad would ever be able to take because use a month after I was married he broke his hip and his health started it’s slow decline. 

Going back to my wedding.  Right before it was time for him to walk me down the aisle my grandad knocked on the door and came into the bridal suite. He said he had a present for me. He gave me a small jewelry box and I opened it. It was a umisoul bracelet with a small heart charm. One it he’d had engraved “To Mel,  Love Grandad”. The heart on the bracelet had actually belonged to my granny. It was from a necklace that he had given her when they were first married.  He had kept the charm for almost 60 years and had it put on a bracelet to give to me at my wedding. The gift came as a surprise to me and of course brought me to tears. He placed the bracelet on me and I wore it everyday until the charm began to deteriorate and then I placed it in a jewelry box for safe keeping. Whenever I need a little bit of extra luck I take it out and put it in my pocket. When I have the bracelet on me I can feel his presence just a little bit more.  

While this gift was clearly very meaningful and reminds me how much he loved me I really believe that the best gift he gave me was his time and love. The bracelet was just a physical reminder of our relationship. My grandad always had time for me. I cannot remember a time when he was too busy to just sit and talk with me or enjoy the peace and quiet of the early mornings of the country. When I was 15 he was diagnosed with cancer and I was terrified I would lose him. I wasn’t ready for my time with him to be over. He promised me that he would be ok and that he would be there to see me get married and have children. He kept that promise and gave me another 15 years. He gave me the gift of meeting both of my sons. He gave me the gift of giving his name to my 2nd born. He gave me the gift of being my grandad and that gift will always be the greatest one I could ever receive.  

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