Walking into work today, my grandfather from my dad’s side crossed my mind. I don’t know why. Today is not his death anniversary, his birthday, or anything like that. But again, for some reason this image of him crossed my mind as I pulled back the doors to the building I work in, the start of a new workday.

My grandfather died when I was in my early twenties. Unfortunately, because he lived overseas, I didn’t see him as often as I could have. There are pictures of me with him, my sisters with him, etc. when he and my grandmother came for visits or when I went to visit them overseas as a kid.

I know my grandfather was smart. I know he was highly respected in his community. I know he was from the old, old school where hard work and discipline translated itself into what made your identity. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with this now, but I do have to give him credit for the good intentions I know these principles were founded on.

My grandfather was an immigration attorney. Because some folks were too poor in his area to pay for his help, they’d give him their crops, their vegetables, etc. as payment. And he accepted them. I think it drove my grandmother crazy.

One of the more vivid stories I recall my dad telling me about was the story about the Japanese flying overhead and my grandfather taking my grandmother, my two uncles when they were kids, and his law books with him as they hid out in the jungle. I guess I like that story because well, it happened in a moment that is only in history books for my generation, and that maybe that moment defined the important stuff in my grandfather’s life: his family and his work. I look back and wish I had connected with him more. History books are great, but when the stories are told from the person who lived through it, the story is more complete, more whole, with none of the important elements missing that make it a story worth telling.