Finding out I was going to Ireland to say goodbye to my grandpa was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Knowing it was the last time I would see him and hear him call my name was heartbreaking. It had been 5 years since I last saw my cousins, and I knew we had waited this long for this reason.
The final weeks before going on the trip had a lot of thinking involved: Would they recognize me? Would he recognize me? Would they like me? Would it be awkward? I had realized I was overreacting but the unknown scared me. I didn’t know if it would be like the last time we went.
That trip was really special because of how far everyone is. My dad came to America all alone and all of his family still lives there. I have 13 cousins there. That’s how many cousins some people have on both sides of the family, but for me it’s just one. It can be hard hearing other people during the holidays talk about going to both sides of the family, when I only have one here. We really only visit my family once every three to five years. I mean yeah it’s cool to say I have family there and my dad is from there, but so many years go by before we see each other again. It's difficult seeing your family and having it be awkward because you don’t really know them or know what to say to them. It's like meeting new people every time. And by the end of each trip, we get so close and that bond is broken because of the time away from each other. We know we can get close again, but it will never be the same like the visit before.
This trip will be the hardest for my dad though. He never really sees his mom, dad, brothers and sister like other people do. He can only call them or facetime them but its not like actually being there with them. But with my grandparents’ time running out, things were different. I think that’s why this trip was so special. We all knew what was happening to my grandpa and no one could do anything about it except cherish the time we had together. He had cancer, went into remission, but then it came back again stronger than before. The medicine and hospitals in Ireland are not quite the same as they are here, so the treatments for cancer are different. We wanted to do everything we could, but everyone, including him knew the outcome of this one.
When we first got to Ireland, my granny Molly and auntie Carmel were so friendly and acted as if we were just there. They gave so many hugs and asked us how much taller we were from the time before. As expected, seeing the cousins for the first time was a little awkward and it felt kinda weird. A couple days went by and we had spent a lot of time with each other, so it was just like old times.
As for my grandad Henry, he actually got better as the trip went on. At first, he looked sick and old, and it was so hard to see him like that. As the trip went on, he talked more, walked around more, and didn’t seem as sick as he actually was. He got up to go to the bathroom by himself, he was eating with no help, and he was calling out all of our names and even yelled a couple of times.
Over the course of the trip, we had gone to Dublin, Ireland. While we were there we visited Trinity College and shopping, of course. After we came out of Trinity, I asked if we could go into a small boutique along the streets. My mom said yes, and we went in. Walking into this store was certainly an eyeopener. There was so many things that had “Ireland” on it. In the back of my mind I was thinking about getting a claddagh ring. A claddagh ring is a traditional irish ring that has a woman holding up a heart. If you were the ring with the heart facing in, that means you are in a relationship. It you wear it with the heart facing out, you are not in a relationship. I had always wanted one, and getting one in Ireland is the most special I think it can get.
I walked over to the section with all of the jewelry and looked for the rings. I scanned the ring section, just so I could find the perfect one. As soon as I saw the smaller size heart with the diamonds along the border of the heart, I knew it was the one. I had to be really careful in getting the perfect design and color because I wanted to keep this for a very long time. It made me think of my grandpa. I knew I wouldn’t see him again, so this ring would be a reminder of him and the trip. It put everything into perspective. I hadn’t realized that I had taken my family that lives here for granted. I could always count on them coming to visit, going to the beach with them, and spending holidays together. I couldn’t do that with my dad’s side. I had to treat each time with my family as if it were my last time. And the ring was a reminder of that.
This trip meant something more to me than just seeing my family, and that makes me feel really good. Everytime I look at my ring I think of my grandpa and my family in Ireland.