An Unforgettable Hero This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 14, 2012
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The first time I heard it, I thought it must be some mistake. Maybe the real news was added with some false information and started a misunderstood situation. We all know how gossips end. My grandfather is dead. That was what the driver told me. My strong yet delicate grandfather is now making his way to God’s kingdom. Images of dead people flooded my mind, my best friend’s mother, a student from my school, and others I know or wish I’d known. I stayed silent on my seat inside my school service, thinking, “How could that be?”

I’m not close with my grandfather. We don’t have the grandfather-granddaughter relationship I always read in books. I had never spent time alone with him. We hadn’t even had a conversation. You see, I’m always quiet when it comes to family gatherings. I don’t talk to anyone unless I got told by someone to ask a relative something or they approach me to chat. I was like that when I was still a child and I still am. Many years ago, I always watch my grandfather from afar, still strong and happy especially when it’s Christmas. December 25 is one of the days I could touch him, besides the touch I get from holding his hand and asking for a blessing. Every Christmas, me and my cousins would line up in front of my grandparents, excited. My grandfather would get the money from his pocket and count. Sometimes, my grandmother would help him. When it’s my turn, I watch as the money lands on my palm and feel my grandfather’s skin brush mine’s. That is one of my favorite memories with him.

I respect my grandfather. A lot. My dad always tell me the story of how my grandfather strived to live. Even without proper education, he still made it big. He became known by so many, I lost count. He married and ended up with eight children – six boys and two girls. My dad is named after him and so is my brother. He would tell me the wise words my grandfather always tells him. Ever since then, I never get tired of hearing it and I still look forward to it.
I was still a kid when I heard the news that my grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a real obstacle in every person’s lives. It did not only eat up my grandfather’s memories, but also my dad’s. Every time my grandfather gets hospitalized because of this, my dad’s patience gets really short. It’s very different from how he usually acts. Now I think, if at those times my dad almost lost his self, won’t he be miserable now that his father is gone? I don’t think he’s alone. I know that every single person my grandfather left in this world feels miserable.

When he was still alive but already had the disease, he lay still on a bed in his room. He only moans when he wants to say something, but I doubt it’s because he knew the person he was talking to. I doubt that he even recognize who he was talking to. Sometimes, I’d catch him doing his Christmas routine. Even with a hospital gown on, he’d move his hand and lead it on top of his heart where his pocket should’ve been, he’d move it upward slowly and carefully like he was holding money and move his other arm to count the invisible money. I found it funny at first, but when he did it again a few more times, I found it sad. I don’t know what to think. Maybe he still had that memory that when he sees a grandchild he’d take out invisible money or if it’s out of habit? I don’t know if he does that if my cousins are around him or if only I’m around.

The entire ride home, these things are flooding my mind. My eyes turn watery and I became worried that tears might fall. I hate crying in front of so many people even if it’s only my service mates. The cold wind helped me stop the tears from falling. A few minutes later, the driver stopped in front of G-mart, a supermarket my family and my relatives own. I searched for any signs of the news being true and there it was. I saw tables set outside even if there’s no event or celebration, a cover hung on top of the place in case it rained. The place looked horrible even with such little changes. It looked dark. That’s when my tears ran down one by one. I looked at my brother and then sobbed. It was all true. The driver was telling the truth. G-mart is showing the truth. The driver continued to drive. When I was home, my mom made me call my dad. As I talked to him, I couldn’t stop crying.

And now, as I write this some sort of note or essay, I write my grandfather’s name in my heart with permanent ink. He is a part of my being, one of my inspirations and role models, a puzzle piece of my life and forever will be. I love you, my wise grandfather. Don't worry about us down here. Everyone will put you in their hearts and live following your footsteps. I know you are in God’s hands. And I know you are watching me type this, maybe even reading it. But while you’re up there in heaven, I hope that you don’t forget that you’re an Unforgettable Hero. To me. To all the people who love you. And to all people who will find you as a hero.

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