This I Believe

Connie - Overland Park, Kansas
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: death, family, legacy, love

When I was in seventh grade my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers. For years before that most of our family had already known, but my grandparents wouldn’t accept it and grandma was tested for everything imaginable before she got tested for the disease. It wasn’t a shock, but my grandparent’s worst fears were realized, my grandma’s sister had Parkinson’s which is the same disease as Alzheimers, it just attacks your body instead of your brain, and it was horrible. They knew what they were up against, and it scared them to death.

Now, grandma was my grandpa’s whole life. They didn’t have any friends outside of the family and they both retired before I was even born. He did everything possible to make sure that she was completely comfortable, and their lives revolved around each other. He took care of her for as long as possible before our family forced him to take to a nursing home. We could tell that grandpa was suffering. The constant struggle to take care of grandma was wearing down on him, physically and mentally.

When my grandma died her and my grandma had been married for over 52 years. He still cries for her and will never look at another woman. He brought devotion to a whole new level and showed me what true love is. I will never forget the way he looked at her and the stories he tells about their experiences together. He believes that he is the luckiest man alive. He married the love of his life at age 19 and she made him the happiest man in the world for 52 plus years. He has told me that if there is a secret to life it was in my grandmother’s eyes. He knows that the rest of his life is too short to spend depressed, so he never is. My grandpa is the happiest and nicest man you will ever meet. He has been put through a lot of trials these past two years, losing his wife, his seventeen year old grandson missed Christmas last year because he was in alcohol rehabilitation, both of his children’s marriages fell apart and this Christmas he had an appendicitis attack and was in the hospital for five days. But his love for our family has never faltered. He believes in us. No matter what mistakes my cousins and I make he is there for us. I look at him, and I know that I haven’t been through anything even remotely as hard as the things that he has gone through in his life. So he is the reason that I live everyday to the fullest, give everyone a chance, and never miss the opportunity to let my family know that I love them. One of these days they will be taken from me. My motto is “don’t take life too seriously… no one gets out alive anyway,” and my grandfather’s insistence that my grandmother, at age 68, lived too short of a life, is the reason behind all of my core beliefs. Love is the answer to all his problems and there is no one in this world that I look up to more.