Growing up, my entire life was firmly based around family. And I firmly believe that it has shaped me into who I am today.
As a boy, I remember dreading the summer bicycle excursions I would take with my family. My parents would drive us (myself and my younger brother and sister) to the middle of nowhere, to this beautiful bike path. If memory serves, it was in Pocahontas, Illinois. We would spend the day all along the bike path, riding until noon; break for lunch; ride on a little more; and then turn around. We’d get home, and there would be my grandparents sitting in the front room, my grandfather reading the newspaper, and my grandmother listening to NPR (thus began my fanfare with NPR), or perhaps just chatting. It was at least every other day that I saw my grandparents. My grandfather used to get down on the floor with me, and teach me to play checkers. I could never figure out how he always managed to beat me, that is, until I was old enough to realize that it doesn’t take much to beat a six year old at anything.
It seemed that the days that my grandparents weren’t at my house, we were at theirs. They only lived about a mile down the road, so the journey was never difficult or a drag. I remember that my dad would take me there to help him fix the porch in the back, it always seemed to be constantly eaten away by woodchucks. My grandmother always seemed to have a gallon of iced tea hidden somewhere on her person. I swear she had it hanging from her belt loop! Perhaps she carried the glasses in her back pockets…..every time i turned around she’d have glasses of iced tea for us. It was always much too sweet. I still cant drink it.
after all the work was done, we’d go inside and chat. Grandma would talk with my dad for awhile, while Grandpa would take me down into the basement, to show me the fishing gear he’d just purchased, or his newly created scene of the Battle of Midway that he’d created with model airplanes and boats. He was a great artist. The models always had the finest details. The pilots of the planes were no more than 3/4 and inch tall, and Grandpa would have painted faces on them, complete with scars, blood, and bruising. I had a real connection with my grandfather. He was everything that I could have aspired to be. I’m not talking about carreer-wise though. What I saw in my grandfather was personafied humanity. In church, the preacher would always mention the power of love. I felt that power in my grandfather. But of course, I never really aprreciated that power, until it was ripped away. My grandfather lost his battle with cancer in 1995. It was then that I realized that nothing in the world matters – except love. Nothing save love – being loved, and having someone to love – matters at all. The power of love shaped my life and continues to do so. And I see Love continuing to shape the lives of those around me. Love is the one essential thing in life, and that is something i trully believe.
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