Grandfather by P. Z., Marblehead, MA
“You never know how many people like you, till you’re dead,” prophetically states Curly in the Broadway musical, Oklahoma! In my recent experience, I found the reverse to also be true. Recently, my family was presented with the possibility of my grandfather’s death. For several years, I have felt the strains of distance and age pulling me away from my closeness to this great man. The chance of losing him made me realize the significant impact he has made on my life, as illustrated by his willingness to teach me, his example of disciplined living, and his active connection with our family heritage.
My grandfather is a prominent tutorial figure within my childhood memories. Even before I was big enough to climb onto his bed without help, he presented me with the tools for the art of chess. One morning, awaking hours before anyone else, my grandfather propped me in front of the checkered board and forged a relationship between me and the stout wooden pieces in front of me.
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This is only one of many things he impressed on me when I was younger that still remain integral to my identity. His early interest in my education has reflected on my own dedication to learning, in some ways enabling me to seek and achieve excellence.
From my early memories, I can deduce that my grandfather has, for a long time, served as a symbol of the self-discipline I hope to someday achieve. Even in my oldest remembrances, I cannot think of a single morning on which a powerful, balding man was not found to be up with the sun, taking a cold shower and doing his 25 minutes of morning exercises, a practice which, I am told, originated in his military service. It seemed to revive my grandfather and allow him to begin each day with a clear mind. This image, reinforced daily in my early childhood, is one which I hope will remain with me and allow his spirit to transcend to minds of the future.
The love and respect for history and heritage which I have always associated with my grandfather is an inspiration to me because he has pursued it undauntedly, even in the roughest of times. It creates a center for his passions and a connection common to all members of our extremely spread-out family. On my fifth birthday, I was allowed my first look at a large sheet of elderly, yellowing paper. Upon it, in light pencil, my grandfather’s hand had inscribed the name of each individual to be born and to have died in my family since the 1890s. Not simply a pastime, my grandfather sees this record-keeping as a necessity, even to the point of having saved the family tree and his collection of photographs among his few possessions while fleeing World War II Poland. I, too, hope to someday have a passion like that which my grandfather has today. He has inspired me to remain committed to all the endeavors I pursue.
Three months after the accident which threatened my grandfather’s life, I feel closer to him than I have in years. Sitting at the edge of his hospital bed, watching the hot tears fill the moats and valleys of his face, I see that age and sickness have taken their toll on the physical vigor which embodied so much of this powerful man. It will be a long time before he, once again, rises with the sun for his morning routine. Yet, the spark of life that has continued to inspire me for so long is still evident in his words and the brightness of his eyes …
… One year later …
I can’t concentrate on my essay – my grandfather is building a closet….