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Grandpa John

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Sitting alone inside my hollowed out tree house, I can see him riding the lawnmower across the large green grass, making sure not to miss an inch. I can see him sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper, occasionally glancing up to smile while watching my sister and I play, sing, and dance on the front porch. I can see him chewing on a toothpick, laughing and teasing me. Almost three years after the death of my Grandpa John, I can still see his face.
When I was still too young to go to school, my mom and dad worked all day so I stayed with my dad’s parents Grandma Phyllis and Grandpa John. I don’t remember very much because I was so young, but my earliest memories were from their house. I remember him mowing the lawn more then anything. I remember the loud rumble of the riding lawn mower and laughing as my dare devil grandpa raced around the lawn. Hours were spent in his garden picking raspberries and rhubarb to make jam and pies with. I remember him raking up the leaves and growing me my own pumpkin in the fall. I loved spending time with both my grandparents.
As I grew older, I spent less time at my grandparent’s house but I loved hanging out with my grandma. We went to the mall, watched movies, and spent time with her friends. I grew apart from Grandpa John, thinking I knew more than him. I started to think he was too strict and he didn’t know anything about teenagers, he was just too old. Every little thing about him annoyed me from the way he scolded me when I was too loud to the way he smelled like aftershave. In the mornings, my grandma would drive my siblings and I to school. I would dread the days she couldn’t take us because the car ride was always silent with my Grandpa John except for one thing; the sucking sound he made as he chewed on a toothpick. Slurp, slurp, slurp. It drove me crazy. Then one snowy day on the way to school, when I was almost to the point of insanity from that sound, my grandpa purposely fishtailed into the parking lot of our school, leaving smiles on our faces. I was reminded of why I loved him.
In 2005, my family was informed my Grandpa had leukemia. That weekend we had planned a camping trip but we cancelled it to stay at home with him. I remember being so selfish, thinking horrible thoughts like why did this have to happen now? To be honest, it didn’t really affect me that much. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my grandpa, but at the time, I didn’t really like him. I thought it was just cancer and people survived from it all the time. Our summer went on and I started to get ready for freshman year at MLS.
In August, Grandpa John became really sick even though he was treated with chemo. He was put in a medical bed in my grand parents living room and we were told he was very sick and would probably pass away soon. All sorts of family members came from all over the country and I remember thinking about how I just wanted to be outside, hanging out with my friends. We went to visit him frequently. I remember one time specifically we were all sitting in his living room while he told stories about when he was younger. He told about his times in the war and working as a police and at GM. I listened to the stories avidly, remembering for the first time in a long time how great of a man my grandpa was. The stories stopped and he wanted to sing hymns so we got hymnals and started singing his favorites. As he got tired, we stopped singing hymns and the family members began talking quietly while he dozed off. I was quietly humming the tune to God’s Word is Our Great Heritage and suddenly he said, “Stop. What is that sound?” Everyone looked around not hearing my quiet song but he looked at me and said, “That is beautiful.” In that moment, I felt regret for disliking him so much. I wanted more time. More time to tell stories and sing hymns. More time for laughing and going to deer acres, like we did every summer. I wanted more time to love him.

All these memories of one of the strongest men I will ever know, affect me more now then ever before. I remember all the times he was there for me and I miss him. I still get teary-eyed when I hear the hymn Abide with me, the last hymn played at his funeral. And as I sit here now I force back the tears. I know I will see him again someday in heaven, but until that day I will never lose the memory of my hero, Grandpa John.





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