Found something I wrote back in college for my English Composition class and thought I’d share.
Has anyone ever made such a huge impact on your life that it changed the way you thought and lived? I searched my head for an answer to this question, and it made me think of my grandfather.
I remember Grandpa and his kind smile, and the way he loved his family. His never-ending faith remains encouraging to me to this day. I feel his warmth every time I walk into his home. Growing up, death was something I never thought about; it never affected my life. When someone not very close to my family died, I didn’t understand how the ones left behind felt, until I lost my grandfather. The death of someone you love is without a doubt painful and life changing.
It was a rainy Monday morning in May 2002. I lazily dressed for school, keeping in mind that it was my final year at Old Harbour High. Graduation was just around the corner. I looked at myself in the mirror and frowned at my uniform, which included a green pleated skirt, yellow shirt with white buttons, and a green tie with yellow stripes. I heard the voices of both my grandparents resounded from the living room. Delight filled me at their visit.
I entered the living room and saw my grandpa sitting on the armrest of the sofa with his hands folded. Grandpa gave me his gentle smile and said, “What’s up?” I smiled back at him as Grandma patted my arm lovingly. While I sat at the table eating breakfast, I overheard my mom asking Grandpa about the pain he was feeling in his stomach. My dad was going to drive him to a doctor’s appointment after taking me to school. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, “What pain? Look at Grandpa! He’s in great health; he’ll outlive us all.” Little did I know that would be the beginning of a series of doctor visits with no real diagnosis until it was too late.
A few weeks later, Grandpa’s pain got worse. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. It even became difficult for him to move around. He was uncomfortable doing the simple day-to-day things he’d normally do. Grandma worried, and so did everyone else. It was hard to see the man who was once so cheerful and strong all of a sudden become so helpless.
Eventually, my dad had to take him to the hospital due to severe pain, and after further tests, doctors finally diagnosed Grandpa with Leukemia.
I still remember the Friday night when my family went to visit him in the hospital. It was the last time I would see my grandpa alive. My parents, siblings, aunts and uncles all went and the nurse made some of us leave because there were too many in his room. But we just loved him so badly and wanted him to know.
When it was my turn to see Grandpa, I became scared. I hated how the air smelled of medication and how sickly he looked lying in the bed with needles and tubes in his body. He was pale and appeared drained of life. He was so much pain, and it broke my heart seeing him in that state. Grandpa could hardly keep his eyes open but when he did, he’d say the name of someone he hadn’t seen yet. He’d touch our hands as we spoke to him, and even though he was going through that ordeal, he’d still smile.
Grandma never left his side. She sat in silence and held his hand. When she glanced away from him and wiped tears from her eyes, it finally hit me that my grandpa wasn’t going to get better. Becoming overwhelmed, I couldn’t stay in the room any longer. I wished that I could have been strong for Grandma, but it was too much. So I went to the parking lot and sat in my dad’s truck crying. Like Grandma, I didn’t want my grandpa to see my tears.
After spending nearly a month in the hospital, Grandpa passed away on an early Sunday morning in August. When my mom told me the news, I could barely get out of bed; my body felt numb. Sorrow had consumed my heart. I cried and argued with my grandpa, asking him, “Why didn’t you fight harder?” And I had even argued with God. “Why did you take him away?” These questions played over and over in my head.
I turned into a zombie, moving around in disbelief. I’d made so many plans and dreamed of many events: graduations, wedding, having children. For all of those things, both of my grandparents were supposed to be there together with everyone else. I truly believed it.
I remembered my dad, a man who had always shown strength; instead, he was broken down, sitting by himself in the living room. He stared off into space while crying. My house was quiet for the first time; it was shocking. The atmosphere was so heavy and sad as if life had left us all.
Hundreds turned out for the funeral, so much so that people had to stand at the back of the church before there were no more seats. I’d met relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time, and some I hadn’t met before. It was difficult seeing my grandpa in the open casket. One of my uncles fainted, and an aunt screamed before sinking to her knees. Grandma sat in quiet as her brother held her comfortingly. She had a dull look in her eyes that I had never seen before, and that brought more tears to mine.
During the service, many spoke about the wonderful person my grandpa was, how much they loved him, and how they thought he’d live longer than all of us. No one made it through sharing their stories without crying. My elder sister and I had recited a poem for him, and it brought everyone in the church to tears.
The service seemed almost celebratory, and I believed Grandpa must have been smiling in heaven on that day, knowing he had made such a positive impact on so many lives.
I had never truly accepted that he Grandpa was no longer here. Sometimes when I would visit my grandparents’ house, I’d find myself still looking for him and that gentle smile. Some of his clothes were still tucked away in Grandma’s closet, and his powdery scent still filled the air. I missed him most at the first Christmas without him, and every Christmas after that, because Grandpa would make his spicy and delicious soup and tell stories about him and Grandma, as well as stories about his life in the country and when he traveled for farm work.
Sometimes I’d see Grandpa in my dreams, mostly sitting on the front porch of his house and smiling at me. I would wake up and cry, but in no time, the happy memories would wipe my tears away.
My grandpa was selfless; he taught us never to be ignorant, and always be willing to lend a helping hand. His faith was strong. He was supportive, loving, humorous, and cared deeply for his family. Grandpa was all those things and so much more, but most importantly, he touched the lives of everyone he met. This is why I carry him with me, no matter how old I get, no matter where I go.