I am going to talk about something a little out of the ordinary today; more personal than my weight or what I ate this week. I want to talk about someone that I am getting to learn about, even though he is gone from my life as it is today.
As a kid, I got to visit my grandparents, who lived a couple hours away, several times a year. I have a lot of memories that I somehow still recall vividly: rolling and running around in the crunchy fall leaves in the backyard of their old house when I was probably four years old; my grandpa picking me up as a little kid and calling me a “cob o’ corn” and blowing raspberries on my tummy; my dad and grandpa going to play that grown-up game called “golf” that I didn’t really understand yet.
As I got older, my grandparents downsized to a little apartment, and that is where most of my memories take place. My grandpa would practically force-feed us every time we arrived; chipped ham sandwiches and canned peaches almost always seemed to be on the menu, followed by cookies. And, every morning, I remember my grandpa going out for his morning walk, then coming in to read the paper and his favorite part—mine too—the “funnies,” the comics.
Time went by, and it became more difficult to visit my grandparents. They were getting much older. While my grandma was doing well, besides some memory loss, my grandpa faced a lot of physical problems. He was healthy as an ox, but his hearing was very poor, and gout and other ailments made it hard for him to move around. It made me so sad to see him that way; it was hard for me to talk to him, and as a teenager, instead of taking the time and trying to talk to him, or maybe even writing him a letter, I just avoided getting into deep conversations with him.
It’s been about two years since my grandpa passed away. But, I am lucky because I still have the chance to get to know him, even though he may be gone. After he passed, my aunt found a folder of papers that he wrote, titled “My Story.” It was filled with pages and pages of stories that my grandpa wrote about his life during World War II, along with some old pictures and wartime documents. My aunt copied them and passed them along to me, and I have been able to begin reading about his life.
It has been a blessing to read about my grandpa’s life; his stories are rich in detail and description, and some of the stories are things that I thought only existed in movies. But his pages of words are lessening a regret that I didn’t even know I had: the regret that I didn’t get to know him more when I could have. I get that chance now.
Reading the stories about his time in World War II, I keep finding my jaw hanging open at the rough times my grandpa had to go through and the things he did to help keep our country strong. I don’t know if I could do the things that he did, and it makes me proud and grateful that my grandpa was able to contribute such things to our country.
He, and the others like him, are the reason that my only worry some days is, “How will I fit a workout into my busy schedule?” He talked of days that he got to eat fruits and veggies in detail, like it was a treat, and here I often feel like I have to force myself to eat those things. My grandpa went on his daily walks, as I said; it was not an obligation. It was a freedom.
I realize now that so many of the things I feel I “have” to do, or take for granted, I am supremely lucky and fortunate to have in my daily life.
So, in honor of my grandpa, and to all of the veterans out there who have given a part of their life and a piece of their heart to our country and all of us who live here, I want to thank you. We all thank you.