5. A proud, loving father
My dad was a pretty reserved guy. While I knew in my heart he would lay down and die for me without a moment's hesitation, he never said "I love you" or "I'm proud of you" or anything like that. It's just who he was.
After he died of cancer, we went to his office to clear it out. I'd never really been in his actual office since, on the rare occasions I'd see him at work, he'd usually meet me at reception.
Well, when we went in there, it was practically a shrine to me and my sister. Every certificate, photo, newspaper clipping, program, etc. was hung up on the walls of his office. A number of people came by to pay their respects as we were clearing things out and, again and again, I heard "he was so proud of you." "I've heard so many things about you, it's nice to meet you in person." "You were so special to your father. He spoke the world of you."
Honestly, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Definitely one of the more bittersweet moments in my life…
6. Celebrating the life of grandchildren
My grandma died when I was 16 after getting cancer for the third time. My grandad moved into a smaller apartment and my cousins and I helped to clean out their house. (A side note... There are 9 of us, aged at the time from 12 - 26).
In the house, we found more than 20 wrapped presents and envelopes of money, addressed to all of us. They were for the big occasions that she knew she wouldn't live to see us have.
Before she had died, she had organised 21st birthday presents for those of us who weren't yet 21, engagement presents, and wedding presents, each with a card written by hand. I remember being so overwhelmed with emotion. She was an incredible woman who loved her family dearly and wanted to celebrate her grandchildren, even if she couldn't be there herself.
7. Hug a grandparent
My grandmother passed after a blood clot incident. She had several conditions that no doubt led up to this. For example, her medical team decided not to treat her breast cancer because they figured she would die before it would spread.
My father, uncle, and my sisters were left to clean out her things from her apartment. She had a lot of old, expired food. Like ketchup that had gone completely black. We found things from when she was well and social, like her quilting and handmade soaps, which were beautiful. She has a quilt that had the names of all of our family, but the names were sewn in the individuals handwriting style.
However, one day it was just my dad and me going through her bedside table. We found her journal. Toward the end, all of the entries were about how lonely she was, how she only got to see her grand children twice a year, and how her own children never saw her unless they needed something. She said she wanted to die. My dad threw it away so his brother would never have to see it.