Our Creative Writing final project was to revise five poems or a story or to write another piece. I wrote about my Grandfather and then, did a PowerPoint to present to the class. I thought that I would put it on my blog so that other people could read it. Enjoy.
In Loving Memory of Grandpa
“Pain has an element of blank-it cannot recollect when it began or if there were a time when it was not.”
I will never forget the night my grandfather passed away. It was 3:45 in the morning on May 4, 2014 and I was in the adjacent bedroom to his. My grandmother was sleeping downstairs. My grandfather had been throwing up for the past three or four days and hadn’t been holding any food down. He got up out of bed as though he had to vomit.
The next thing I hear was a bang. I rushed to see what happened. The towel rack was on the floor and Grandpa was on his back, breathing heavy.
“Grandpa!” I said to the best of my ability.
“I’m ok, Heath. I’m ok,” he said, pulling himself onto the toilet seat.
I waited a few seconds and then, I had to call Grandma.
“Ma! Ma! Ma!” I called, my body shaking like a leaf.
“What Heath?” she called, coming upstairs.
I kept calling her. Grandpa didn’t respond to my voice so I knew that something was seriously wrong. His hearing was bad, but not that bad. I started screaming.
“Walt?” Grandma said.
She said it again going into the bathroom, saying it louder and louder. She touched his arm and exclaimed, “Dead! Oh my goodness. On our anniversary!”
She dialed 911 in a hurry and said that he was having a heart attack.
The next thing I know, my father and two uncles had arrived in tears.
“I can’t believe it!” cried Uncle Mike.
Uncle Peter got Grandpa off the toilet and laid him on the cold bathroom floor. Within seconds, the paramedics showed up. “Walt! Walt!” one of the guys shouted.
Meanwhile, I am in the dining room with my grandmother, aunt, seventeen-year-old cousin and father’s girlfriend, praying for a miracle that my grandfather would be alright, but deep down, I knew he was gone.
Later that day, funeral arrangements had to be made. Grandpa was an EMT and President of Lakeside Fire Company for fourteen or so years. We made arrangements for the whole district to be there. As President, Grandpa combined the Monroe, Harriman, Woodbury and Central Valley fire districts into one company. That way, more than one district could respond to an emergency. We would have the wake two days later and funeral the day after.
I helped my aunts and cousins create a collage of pictures for his wake. One was a picture of Grandma, him and I in Disney World. Another one was a picture of his parents along with a few others. I saw what he accomplished in his seventy-five years of life as I reviewed his strong, courageous legacy. I looked at his life and although I was twenty-one, I asked myself, “Am I going to leave a legacy this strong?”
He was in the military when he met my grandmother. He never fought in battle, but I still honored his service. He was a carpenter, tiling bathrooms for years. He even advocated for me in grade school, fighting for my every need and opened doors for other special needs children. My grandfather was no pushover. If somebody annoyed him, he would tell them straight up and down.
Yes, he was a stickler, but he had a soft side too. Grandpa loved animals. We got a Boxer in November 2004 and he loved that dog. In 2004, he had prostrate cancer and he underwent chemotherapy and beat it. In 2007, he needed a pacemaker for his heart because he was having silent heart attacks. And whenever he wasn’t feeling well, the dog would lay next to him. He always said, if he had a farm of puppies, he would name all of them and take care of them.
He would take me riding every Friday at Winslow. He would watch me as I trotted and did some other kinds of riding such as posting, going over poles and doing other forms of exercise. Sometimes, after riding, we would go feed the horses. At Winslow, people weren’t supposed to feed the horses by hand. They had to drop the treat into the bucket so that the horses wouldn’t develop the habit of biting people. Well, Grandpa would drop the apples or carrots into the bucket, but then, he would sneak them an extra treat.
We made arrangements for the wake and funeral. The wake was overwhelming. It seemed like everyone from the past came to pay their respects. People from Monroe-Woodbury attended, like my aide who I was with since preschool, past therapists and a few teachers. Everyone that came showed tremendous support for our family. A few of my closest friends came and I was grateful for that.
At the wake, there was an abundance of flowers and to the left stood a poster of pictures. There was the one of Grandma, Grandpa and I in Disney World. Another one was a family photograph in front of the local Italian restaurant, where we had one of my birthday parties. We had pictures of him and Grandma on their wedding day next to a picture of his parents. His mother emigrated from Russia in 1914 and his father left Hungary eight years earlier. He met my grandmother in 1961 at work, married her and had three sons.
Then, Grandpa was awarded military honors the next day at the funeral. I sat there in my wheelchair, thinking, “My dad’s gone. That military hero and my grandmother were there for me for twenty-one years and now he’s in a better place”. I remember the folding of the flag and it being presented to my grandmother. Then, the funeral began.
I knew that Grandpa would have appreciated everybody that came out to respect his passing and support his passing. He was active in the town, firehouse, ambulance, school district and family. I miss him assisting me with homework, taking me fishing, or cuddling at night and listening to Red River Valley. I hope to become as active in my community as he was. He would know what was going on with the town board, school board and the firehouse. Grandpa was like the mayor of Monroe. He knew everybody. He also advocated for me in school. He advocated for my aide to stay with me throughout grade school. He advocated for me to get help with the Regent exams. He also advocated for other kids with disabilities to get the services that they needed.
Now, I’m not your average young person that likes hip-hop or heavy music. I like country, celtic, calypso, new age and sometimes, classical music. Grandpa liked a lot of music that I downloaded. When I was little, we would dance to songs like the Tennessee Waltz, My Wild Irish Rose and the Yellow Rose of Texas. They were on my piano and it would play those songs as we danced.
At my high school graduation party, I had wanted this band to play that was at our friend’s surprise party back in February. So we hired them for my party and they played songs that were country, soft rock and even a few Celtic songs. My graduation party was at our firehouse and, ironically, I attended preschool there. I was dancing with all the men and then, Grandpa and I danced to songs like Wunderbaar, Popeye the Sailor Man, which always got people singing at get-togethers, and many other songs. We had a ball at our firehouse that day.
Grandpa was also a devout Russian Orthodox. I always would ask what the difference between the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church was and he said that there was no difference. They believed the same thing except the Russian Orthodox masses were much longer and they didn’t follow the pope. But I remember him loving Christmas. He loved a lot of the Christmas hymns. His favorite one was Oh, Holy Night. For a few years, we went to Midnight Mass and it was a delightful experience. He loved listening to the choir and the liturgy. It was very special to him.
Grandpa was also an expert in history. His favorite time period was World War II. He knew about the Navajo code talkers used in Japan. But he would watch the History Channel and he absorbed information like a sponge. He would watch something on the American Revolution or the fall of the Roman Empire and recite it after watching it once. If I asked him a question about something that came up in school, such as what the pros and cons of feudalism was, he could explain it without looking it up.
Grandpa also read a lot. His favorite authors were David Baldacci and James Patterson. However, he’s read a very wide range of books from Elie Wiesler’s novel, Night to more modern books. He would help me with reading for school because of my movements. He would help me study for tests by reading the textbook or notes to me and then, he would ask me questions and then, I would answer them. Grandpa could tell me what was going to be on the test and what wasn’t.
If I had a document based question packet for history, Grandpa was able to read the passage to me, discuss the questions that followed the document and add additional information to the question. His intelligence was close to being genius.
In August 2009, Grandpa, Grandma and I went to a Dynavox camp in Maine. It was a small camp and it was for kids who were Dynavox users. It was a three-day camp and we called the place to find out what the lodging was like. The woman told us to bring our own blankets. So we did, but we were under packed. Our blankets and two sleeping bags didn’t keep us warm. We even put three twin-sized beds together and we still were fighting over the blankets and laughing over how cold we were that night. It turned out that the windows overhead were open. So the next day, we went and bought sweatshirts and the staff at the camp gave us extra blankets and we slept much better that night.
I will always miss my grandfather and Dad forever more. He was more than a family man; he was a hero to the community. Even the local school personnel, fire stations and the town remember him in a positive light. I’ll talk to one of my cousins about him and she remembers him as a tough man with a soft side. Grandpa is now in Heaven, looking down and saying, “What a beautiful family, community and life I had.”