February 11, 2008
By Sarah Heath, Spring City, TN

“Hurry up grandma!” I impatiently hollered. “Why does she have to be so slow?” I thought as she began to fall even farther behind. It was a pleasant day at the park, but by the looks of it we were never going to get to the other side before sunset. The tire swing and spinney slide made the far side of Cumberland National Park my favorite place to go with my family. I looked back again and saw her holding her hip and it was obvious that it was bothering her more than usual. Sympathy was nowhere to be found as I yelled yet again, “Hurry up!”
My grandmother and I never got along very well, our personalities tended to clash. Maybe it was because I was only eight and slightly immature. I began to get excited when I finally heard the squeaking sound of the tire swing and the laughter of other children at play. “Boom!” Thunder shook the earth as rain began to fall vigorously from the sky. “Oh dear,” said grandma, “It looks like we will need to head back towards the car.” I looked at her angrily, “Why couldn’t you have walked faster,” I said, “then I would have been able to swing!”

Later that day I was in my room watching television when my mother unexpectedly came to talk to me. “Sarah,” she said sternly, “We need to talk.” I quickly went and set on my bed, fidgeting with the loose thread escaping from my quilt. I could tell that she was irritated with me by the tone of her voice. “You really hurt your grandmothers feelings today.” She said. As I listened to my mother talk I began to think of how it must have made my grandmother feel. My mother explained to me that my grandmother couldn’t help it that she was walking so slowly and that not a day goes by where she doesn’t feel the impact of the ruthless disease. I always knew that my grandmother had arthritis but that day I began to comprehend the full extent of her pain.
The very next day I decided that I would go up to her house and visit with her. As I walked the wooded path to her house the birds were joyfully singing and the air was as fresh as the spring flowers that were beginning to bloom. “Knock, knock!” I listened to the sound of my hands thrashing against the tall oak door. “I’m coming,” she said as she slowly opened the screechy old door. Her appearance showed that she had still been in bed, curlers were scrambled throughout her hair and she was wearing her bright red pajamas. We both stood there for a minute in the cool April breeze, both utterly speechless. The woman that was standing in front of me was someone who refused to let excruciating pain overbear her happiness. “I’m sorry grandma,” I said, “I never meant to be hurtful.”
That day my grandmother and I talked for hours and for the first time I saw her for whom she was, a real person with dreams, fears, and emotions. I had been woven so tightly in my own life that I had not known the importance of how a rude word or thoughtless gesture has the capability of hurting people. The rain from the previous day had settled not only in the ground, but also in my life.

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