There are those people in your life that never leave your thoughts, your heart. Always present, always there in the back of your mind trying to steer you in the right direction. A stalwart of wisdom, love and resilience. So powerful an influence that even years later, with very little contact at all, they are still there in your thoughts, in your decisions.
For me, Grandpa Branham was that person. He was always so calm, deliberant and present even when seemingly aloof. There isn’t a certain moment or experience that makes his long life of experiences stick with me. Yet the time I spent with him, years and years worth of fishing, cooking, playing cards, fixing things, working in the wood shop and hanging out with the family, it all sunk in so deep. Almost like a tiny slice of his wisdom was deposited in the back of my skull.
Ever since I moved to Colorado I have seen less and less of this great man. I have become so obsessed with the things I love to do that I have found it hard to leave the wonderful enchantment of my home in the mountains. There is no excuse for not visiting more often. It is that simple, there is no reason big enough in the world to skip out on seeing such wonderful people. Still I have found a special place that moves me, calms me, inspires me and I swear whispers wisdom into my ears.
This quiet, serene and majestic mountain stands tall and distant above Gunnison. It simply stands tall as the world turns, explodes, fights, bickers and carries on. Looking south to the huge rolling flanks casting long shadows in the setting sun, reminds me that life is both big and small. That being pure in my thoughts and actions is the way to be big. That being humble, forgiving and kind is the way to be lovingly small. Sawtooth Mountain has become Grandfather to me. It is in no way a replacement or surrogate for the real thing, thus there is Grandfather and Grandpa. One is the human that taught me so much about life and living, and one is a mountain that reminds me to keep loving, believing and trying.
This past week my Grandpa passed away. He was an amazing 97 years old. Today many people gathered to remember him, his life and the impact he had on so many of us. I did not make it back to join my family and friends in the celebration of his life. It leaves me filled with sadness that I didn’t get to see him one last time and did not see him off on another journey. I did hike up to Grandfather and while there on top of the world, I said goodbye to a great and wonderful person. Everytime I look up at that mountain, or tread my feet on its soil, I will think of you Grandpa, with love and the desire to be a better person. I will always carry some bit of your voice and wisdom inside me and for that I am eternally grateful.