My grandfather- Poppy, beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, Vietnam War Naval Air Force veteran, proud Boston College alumni, charity business owner, Silicon Valley pioneer, and so much more- was my first close loss. Death was always a distant experience in my life, and this marked the first of what I knew will not be the last.
I flew back to the Bay Area, CA, and stayed a week for the funeral. I cried again.
I returned to Ann Arbor thinking a lot about how the most giving, kindest, and, simply put, the best man I have ever known was gone. It seemed unjust for such a good person to get stage four lung cancer; then again, since when was life fair? For some reason, I believed I had to make it just. I wanted to do something that sent a big middle finger to the world and, somehow, that would make everything right.
That is what it felt like, but that really isn’t what it was. I found that this overwhelming feeling was that my Poppy’s death compelled me to carry on his legacy. The word “legacy” sometimes has an elitist or material connotation, which I often hear thrown around with “legacy students.” I wanted to tell Poppy’s story and continue his influence in the ways I best know. When I tell people his story, I carry on his legacy, life, and what he has done for everyone. He empowers me to do better, for him, for myself, and for others. How can I, like my Poppy, carry that influence onto others? So when I came back to the studio, I wanted to make something that held this sentiment.