Growing up, I had a few great men in my life: my father, my brothers and my “Grandpa”. Though my Grandpa was my mother’s employer, he had always been a paternalistic figure to me. When it was his time to say goodbye to the world, I thought I could just lock him out of my life so I wouldn’t have to face the harsh reality that he wasn’t there any longer. But it wasn’t until later that I realized by pushing him away, I took the life out of him.
Two years ago, I found out that he had cancer. At that very moment, I wanted to punch a wall and burst into tears at the same time. I didn’t know what to expect. I never really had someone close to me die. Grandpa told me that he was going to win the battle against his illness, and I believed him. Yet wasn’t long till I started to notice that the cancer was getting to him.
Grandpa became too ill to do anything with me, even have a conversation. Soon enough, he forgot my name. I’d ask him how he was doing, and he’d reply, “What’s your name again, dear?” Then, I’d tear a bit, and flash a fake smile.
I knew why he wasn’t himself lately, yet I still felt a great amount of anger towards him. I made myself believe, as impossible as it sounds, that it was his fault that he had cancer, that it was his motive to leave me, that he was to be blamed for making me feel this way.
On October 26, 2006, he passed away. For a while, I didn’t think about it much. I was upset when I heard the news, but I didn’t cry. I thought to myself: Whatever, he’s gone. You can’t bring him back.
My sister kept mentioning him, but I told her not to bring him up again so we wouldn’t have to cry. One day, she said to me that by reminiscing, we make him come back to life in our hearts and minds. I didn’t want to succumb to her words, but the idea of Grandpa coming back to life played over and over again in my head like a broken record. It wasn’t until that moment when I started to see that the anger I felt was not towards him but the fact that he was leaving me and did leave me. I finally said, “I just miss him”, and cried. My sister hugged me as we talked about the memories we shared with him.
I didn’t want to let Grandpa go. However, by shutting him from my life, I made his soul and our memories die along with his body. Grandpa left footprints in my life, footprints that can never be removed but retraced. As I retrace these footprints, I see him standing beside me, smiling. Though time separates the body from its soul, memories keep people alive. This I believe.
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