Craig Elbe
5 min readDec 14, 2020

After enough life lived, one may ponder their biggest successes, failures, and regrets. Of all my regrets, the one I place above all others was out of my control.

My Grandpa and I loved watching Michael Jordan play, and appreciated his abilities on the court from very different perspectives. Now, the number Jordan famously wore represents the number of years my Grandpa passed away.

I was in eight grade and knew this day was coming. His health was rapidly declining due to the cancer he had since the summer before, combined with the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. When our like-another-mother neighbor told my sister and me of Grandpa’s passing that Thursday morning, we were given the option to stay home or go to school.

Our parents were with our Grandma and Aunts and Uncle, consoling each other and grieving loss the one of, if not the, most important man in their lives. I remember it being a Thursday because Thursdays were Art Class and I got to see my crush, my Art teacher. The timing was fortuitous with my needed distraction already in play. I chose to attend a full day of classes.

I was a little numb, trying to be strong. However, a few days later at his wake, I cried harder and more than any other wake, before or since. The sadness that surrounded my family and me was compounded by the sheer number of people that came to pay their last respects to this great man. My Grandpa touched so many lives in his 68 years that the funeral home had to open all the other rooms to accommodate the large crowd. Thankfully…