My grandfather, Robert R. Smith, was one of the 2 most important people in my life (the other being my grandmother). Probably the most important thing he did for me is that he was my role model. He loved my grandmother, never used profanity, took care of her when she was ill, was a faithful church goer, a good friend to all that knew him, a proud factory worker, and filled my head up consistently with good advice based on his own personal experiences.
See my grandfather was transparent in his own way. He told me about 20 different stories from various experiences of his life. And he told me each story multiple times. Some stories had to do with saving money, some dealing with envois coworkers, some dealing with women, and others just dealing with being a black man in the south. I refer to these stories constantly has I have become a man with a family. Because he was retired; we spent a lot of time talking, going to the movies, and just having a strong father and son bond.
My grandfather died from cancer in 1999. That was the hardest period of my life. I was 22 years-old and I was just kind of understanding what manhood was all about and my main mentor, parent, and role model was not there to guide me. Even though I knew the cancer was taking him away slowly; there was still a dark and confusing feeling when he was no longer here.