Fate's Great Injustice

September 23, 2008
My grandfather, to whom I dedicate every success in my life, is sitting in a nursing home miles away. The man that I would give anything to help, the man that I love with all my being.

He is a Holocaust survivor, with the tattoo to prove it. He lost every single member of his family during that dreadful genocide. He lost almost everything, except his spirit.

But he was able to rebuild it all, in a new land. He got a job and even found a family, my mother’s family. Even though he was only my grandmother’s boyfriend, he became a father to my mother.

Many moons later, I was born, and I quickly became the apple of his eye. I was his baby girl, his legacy. And he became my grandfather, despite the fact that there was no blood relation, despite the fact that he didn’t have to love me.

My grandfather taught me something incredible through how he lived his life. To live the fullest life possible, because he was the living example of how quickly everything can be taken away. And because he knew that, he gave, to everyone he could. He wanted everyone to have everything they needed to live the fullest lives possible. He would give anything to help anyone, even, as he joked, the shirt off his back.

Giving got him into trouble eventually. It’s one of Fate’s great injustices. There was a woman in his apartment building who befriended him. He saw that she needed some help paying for things and such, but by this time, his judgment wasn’t the greatest as he slipped into the horrors of dementia. That woman ended up taking advantage of him, somehow forging papers that she was his wife and taking control of his estate. By the time anyone realized what had happened, the woman was gone, gone with every cent my grandfather had made. But she apparently wasn’t satisfied with that. She sold his apartment, his furniture, and got rid of the rest. Everything was gone, even the pictures of the two of us that he kept by his bedside, even the pictures of the family that he had lost.

Gone, it was all gone, and months later, my grandfather would be gone as well, only he wasn’t gone. His dementia progressed rapidly, until he lost his grip on reality. But he hasn’t lost everything; he will never lose me. Even though he doesn’t know where he is, or who anyone is, by some small miracle, he can recognize me. I go to see him as often as I can, and the minute I walk into his room, his eyes light up as he says “Carrie.” And I look at him, tears in my eyes, and tell him “I’m here grandpa, I’m here.”

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