Christopher - Gaylordsville, Connecticut
Entered on May 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

This I Believe

I believe it is important to live every moment of life to the fullest. Many people take life for granted; they do not appreciate everything they are able to do. From things as simple as being able to partake in sports, such as golf and swimming, to things as important as being able to visit, or even having, family are overlooked, and not appreciated to the extent that they should be. On any given day the ability to be able to do things such as this can be taken away at any moment.

Before the age of 10, my Grandfather’s father was struck and killed by an oil truck while working for the New York City Police Department; his sister died of pneumonia; his mother passed away; and his brother died of an infection in his eye after he was accidentally shot with a BB gun by his friend; he was left with only his brother. For the rest of his childhood they bounced between orphanages, scarring his childhood with the memory of crying himself to sleep and having to be comforted every night by Nuns at the orphanages. The joy of having a family, people who love you, take care of you, and are always there for you was not there for him.

As he got older he was very successful at work and as a father. Having four kids of his own, and a loving wife, he was always there for them and worked extremely hard to be able to provide for them and give them what he did not have. After retirement his favorite things to do were garden, golf, swim, and most importantly visit his family. In his early 70s he was experiencing some shoulder pain and went in for a routine shoulder operation, but it did not turn out well. His shoulder turned out to be worse after the surgery and began to prevent him from doing the activities he loved. He could no longer work in his garden, swing a golf club, swim, and eventually could not drive on long trips without his shoulder pain becoming excruciating. These activities, taken for granted by most, had become a major part of my Grandfather’s life and he would no longer be able to do any of them.

On top of all of this my Grandfather found out he had cancer, but luckily it was found early enough that chemotherapy had a high chance of curing him. When he finally finished his chemotherapy sessions and was declared free of cancer by his doctors he was very excited, things started to seem like they were turning around and were getting much better for him. Within a month after he finished chemo he passed away from a stroke on August 24th, 2006.

Out of the many things that my Grandfather has taught me, the thing that had the most influence on my life was how he lived life. The odds were always stacked against him, but he maintained a positive attitude and a sense of humor. Life if filled with letdowns and controversy, but the measure of a man is how we approach these problems. My Grandfather focused on the positives in life, he took advantage of all the opportunities he was given and solved all of his problems on his own. He took nothing for granted and appreciated everything that he earned. This is what made him such a great man, father and grandfather. I believe that living every moment in life to its fullest, and appreciating it while you have it, is the most important thing a person can do; my Grandfather taught me this.