There are certain parts of my beginning semester of college that I remember all too well. I remember the first friend I made, the first party I attended, the first time I wore pajama pants to class (living the true college experience). The first month in particular was a very rough time for me, as I was dealing with the constant concern for my grandfather. He had cancer, and it was really tough for me to deal with. Not knowing what each day would bring was nerve-wrecking for me, and being away from home never made the situation any better.
September 25, 2006 was the worst day of my life, hands down. I received a call that turned my world around completely. No call I have ever received in my 27 years of life, shocked me as much as the call I received when my grandfather died. I’ll always remember being on the phone with my mother, about to go eat breakfast with one of my friends, when she said “your grandpa died this morning”. The statement had enough power to stop me dead in my tracks, walk me outside of the dining hall, and completely numb me for the rest of my day. This was my first time experiencing death that close. And for it to be my grandfather put me in a horrible place.
The last time I saw my grandfather was around the beginning of August in 2006. I was leaving the for college, and I went to see him the night before I left. I knew he was sick, as he had been for a while. His passing wasn’t a sudden, “out-of-nowhere” thing. I knew the battle he was up against, and the unfortunate truth was that it could very well be the thing that took him from my life; my gripe with it was that it was way too soon for me. I wasn’t in a place to accept that. I remember writing him a letter, describing how I was excited to be going to college, and hoping that he would be well enough to see me graduate. I had high hopes for him to get past this. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to read my letter, before he got more ill. If you thought his passing got me, you can only imagine how I felt when I learned that he never got the chance to read the words I wrote to him.
A lot of the emotions I feel for my grandfather and his death are some that no one has ever known. One of them is regret. To this day, I still feel responsible for dropping the ball as a grandchild, and not going to check on him whenever I came home. During that first month of college I came home a few times, for one reason or another. The times that I did come home, I didn’t go to the hospital to physically see my grandfather. I had received updates on his condition, but I never went to see for myself. To this day, I am unsure as to why I didn’t go; the only reason I could come up with was the fear of reality. Seeing my grandfather in the hospital would have made everything all too real for me, and as long as I didn’t face the truth, I believed that there was hope that he could get better. I live through the eyes of optimism, so I never counted out the idea that my grandfather could beat his sickness. I would just continue to pray that God would protect him, and He would have the final say on what happens. When he lost that fight, I was in so much pain. I wanted prayer to prevail; I wanted my high hopes and optimism to be the advantage that he would just have a little more time left, at least to see me through my first year of college. I thought I would have a next time, but I didn’t and it continues to eat at me to this day.
I think about my grandpa often. I remember his laugh. His laugh was by far my favorite thing about him. If I made him laugh, joy radiated through my body. The smallest details about him made me smile. The fact that I could drive up the street and see him walking from the store, his most comfortable napping spot would be anywhere but a bed (seriously, lol), and how he didn’t have to say much for me to enjoy his company. My grandpa was definitely a man of few words, but I knew one thing, he never had to say he loved me for me to know.
Nowadays, I smile at the little things that remind me of him; like a $5 bill, which was something like an allowance I got from him every 2nd and 4th Sunday; our 2nd Sunday lunch date to Sizzler with my sister and mom (which he always paid for, silently of course 🙂 ), moon pies, Happy Meals, the Sunday paper that he would always give me the money for (even though back then, I only looked at the comics section) and the gas station about a quarter of a mile from he and my grandmother’s house that he would sit in front of and eat his moon pies so that my grandma wouldn’t know he bought any from the store LMAO! Every now and then, when I am at a buffet, I even put fatback on my plate, because that is one thing he would always eat when he went to lunch with us. Was it the healthiest thing he could eat? No. But it was his prerogative and I wasn’t in the business of telling a grown man what he could and couldn’t eat. Lol.
Grandpa was a great man. He was a simple man with a big smile and an even bigger heart. I miss him terribly, but I hope I am making him proud.
Love you Big Man 🙂
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