My grandpa, Ollie Betz, died from an illness known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Two months prior to his death, he started feeling pains throughout is body, mainly around his stomach. During those months, he saw many doctors but none could make a diagnosis. Many of them simply said it was in his head. The disease, unfortunately, was not in his head, but I had a lifetime of stories from his head. I believe, more than ever, in the power of his stories.
One doctor finally found the disease lurking in my grandpa two weeks before his death. He wanted the family to know that there was no cure for the disease. It was hard for me to realize that my grandpa was dying right in front of me. Even though he knew he was dying, he still had that smile that could break any tear.
One thing about my grandpa that made him unique was his story telling. One story that I will never forget gives a perfect example of my grandpa’s sense of humor. When my mom was a little girl, my grandpa was reading a newspaper article about how majority of females did not know how to shoot a gun. So, my grandpa took all the girls in the family out to shoot a 12 gauge shot gun. First, he handed the gun to grandma.
Not knowing the recoil of a 12 gauge shot gun, my grandma pulled the trigger. The gun went flying and so did grandma. “Gosh dammit, my gun!” yelled my grandpa. He quickly picked up the gun and ran in the house leaving grandma on the ground. After grandpa finished telling the story, grandma commented by saying she found the newspaper article in the trash the following morning.
Whenever I think of grandpa, I remember him for who he was. He was a great man and an inspiration to me and my family. The night he took his final breaths, he gave me one last smile. It was at that moment, I realized he was going to a better place; a place called heaven. I started believing in faith for the first time in my life. I know when my time comes to pass through the pearly gates; he will be standing there with his signature grin, waiting to tell me another funny story. The power of stories brings people together. Even though my grandpa is gone, I still can see him through his stories.
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