Rightfoot, left foot. My eyes stay transfixed on my grandfather's sturdy brown shoes.I try to match his stride with what, for me, are quantum leaps. The brown shoessuddenly stop, too quickly for me to realize, and I clumsily crash into hislegs. I raise my eyes expecting a look of dismay, but am greeted with a laugh anda loving smile. He warns me to be careful; tears well up in my eyes over ascraped knee but really all that hurts is my ego. His wrinkled but soft handengulfs mine and he swings my arm to create a merry stride, though my tearsprevent me from being amused. We pass waiting cars and I can't help but wonderhow he acquired the power to stop the world.
Recognizing the big cone ofice cream in front of the Dairy Queen, I run ahead. Tugging at the door with allmy might, my grandfather's hand slips over mine and the giant glass door swingsopen. Yet another super power I hoped was genetic. Moving through the chatteringpeople, I walk straight for the ice cream machine. He pulls the lever, fillingthe brown cone; I watch in amazement as he magically mixes the brown and whiteice cream into one heaping mountain. Holding my cone with both hands he pays andwe go outside to sit on the grass. I'm sniffling still, and he wipes the lastpatch of wetness from my cheek as I finish my cone. Crisis averted! My personalsuper hero once again saves the day by creating another childhoodmemory.
As an impressionable child I thought my grandfather was the lordof knowledge; he always had an answer for every question. Sometimes his answerswere long and precise, sometimes he left me wondering. I've found myself asking amillion questions about his life as I grow into mine. My grandfather'saccomplishments only whisper half of what he's done, and I hope my life willfollow in his shadow.
My grandfather attended Denver University and theSchool of Mines where he graduated in the top ten in his class. He left with aMetallurgy Degree that helped him serve his country in the Armed Forces byclassifying chemicals. After the Army my grandfather settled down with mygrandmother, now his wife of 50 years. He's a skilled artist whose work hasappeared in several nationally recognized magazines, and is backed by a degree inart. When I look upon my own walls at his paintings, I take pride in thestone-faced, blonde little girl he managed to make look innocent even though Irefused to smile for the portrait.
My grandfather inspires me toconquer any setbacks. He started running at the age of 40 and went on tochallenge himself in the Boston Marathon. To this day he continues to place amongthe top ten in his age bracket, 60 and above, worldwide.
My grandfatheris my hero because he created childhood memories that will keep me safe from anybad day. He'll forever be the one who took me hiking, swimming, out for yogurtand occasionally ice cream. He's the one who got me addicted to V8 juice and alife of health. He, along with my grandmother, have never missed a birthdaydinner or any activity I participate in. My grandfather will always be the one Icall for advice, especially academic. As I make my way through life, I'll take itjust as my grandfather unknowingly taught me - right foot, left foot.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.