Living for Today, a Lesson Learned from Grampy

November 1, 2007
By Amber Brown, Farmington, IL

I heard the faint creaking of a garage door opening; it was barely audible, but that did not matter. I stopped what I was doing—it could wait—nothing was as important as reaching the source of the noise. Quietly but swiftly I dashed out of my back door and ran towards the creaking sound. As I approached my destination the creaking grew louder, and my smile grew wider. The garage door came into view; just a few more strides and I would be there. My heart was pounding, only two steps left, then one…
I jumped straight into his open arms. The scent of his Old Spice cologne tickled my nose, but at the same time, the familiar aroma urged me to stay in his arms. He was my great-grandpa, and I was his little girl.
During my toddler years, I constantly ran from my house to my Great-grandpa Virden’s house. It was a little game between the two of us, and the only rule was do not get caught. My great-grandpa, or grampy as I called him, and I were never worried about getting into trouble, which was a trivial matter. However, if we were caught playing our game, it would not be fun anymore. Without that enjoyment, the game would seem pointless because enjoying ourselves was all that mattered.
My Great-grandpa and I were caught frequently while playing the game. After chasing after her daughter day after day, my mom became less than thrilled with the game. She simply did not want to see her little girl run off without telling anyone. However, I was never really “mommy’s girl.” If I was, I might have told her about the game and running off, but I was always “grandpa’s little girl.” Grampy thought having fun was a priority, so the game was played as sneakily as possible.
As I grew older, the relationship between grampy and myself did not change that drastically Granted, we no longer played games of sneaking away from my mom, but I was still his little girl and wanted to be with him at every available moment. During those moments spent together, we could talk about anything. Grampy patiently listened to my complaints or concerns, never laughing at how trivial they were. Instead, he constantly displayed a comforting smile, that type that seems to make you feel warm inside. Not only did he listen, grampy also offered advice and told stories of his own. I never would have thought delight would come from hearing multiple stories from ‘back in the day,’ but when grampy told a story, it came to life. His vivid details and descriptions made the setting seem real. Because the stories were so enjoyable, I always begged to hear another.
One day though, during my freshman year of high school, I knew I could never beg to hear another story again because my Great-grandpa Virden had passed away. Because we were so close, his death hit me hard. When I found out grampy had passed away, my stomach sank like a rock that had been thrown into a pool of water. As my stomach dropped, my eyes swelled with tears, and I began to tremble. I wanted nothing more than to hear his soothing voice, enjoyable stories, or cheerful laugh just one last time. Fresh drops of water ran down my flushed cheeks, and I could not help but think of the many stories and words of advice my great-grandpa had given me over the years. As thoughts about the stories and advice came to mind, I realized how much of an impact they had on me.
Stories about hard times when my grampy was young taught me to persevere and have determination. Life was not easy for him in a large family. He had to help take care of his family as well as himself, but he never gave up. Those stories influenced me to be like my grampy and to keep trying, no matter the difficulty of the task.
Accounts of his experiences in World War II taught me to never back down. I learned no matter how trying or frightening a situation may be, there is always a way to progress through it. Giving up is never an option. In fact, giving up is not even a last resort.
Most importantly, my grampy taught me to live for the moment and not to worry about useless things because when you pass away, only the enjoyable memories matter. After your death, people do not dwell on insignificant choices you made throughout your life; they simply reminisce on the good times spent with you. If others do not want to worry about insignificant events after your death, why dwell on them during your life?
Without my grampy or those lessons, I do not know where I would be today. He was my playmate when I was young, and as I grew, he became my rock when things got hard and my best friend when I felt left out. Underneath those roles though, he was simply my great-grandpa, someone I could always depend on. Although his death hit me hard, all of the tears I shed could never wash away the memories or lessons he left behind.

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