This past week, I saw my grandpa for the first time in five years. My family is one of those enormous ones that you can only find in movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That’s why the sight of him killed me. He lives in Florida, and seeing as I am a good seventy years younger, and the fact that I can walk without feebly clutching to the wall with one hand, while supporting myself with a cane in the other, I’ve concluded that it was my duty. It was my duty to make the trip down to his place, instead of forcing him to struggle to fly up to mine. I planned to fly down, I honestly did, but one thing lead to another and a few skipped chances eventually accumulated to five long years. In the end, he decided it would be best to fly up to Illinois, simply put, while he still could.
The last time I saw him, my grandpa would wake up at six every morning and walk no less than six times around the block that our house was on. Fiver years later, as he walked through the door, he had both of his hands on a portable walker, with my father’s steady hands supporting his back. The sight made me sick. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any death in my family for seventeen years, and the sight of a loved one struggling was something I was to naïve to comprehend. I thought of cowardly retreating to the bathroom to regroup, but then he looked up. And he saw me. I heard the most exhausted laugh I ever have. I saw the most luminous eyes known to man. My reaction? I felt like I had just committed murder. What had I ever done for this man? Nothing. This was a man who adored me like I supply every breath that he takes. This was a man who my dad had once told me—the only time I have ever seen the slightest hint of tears in my father’s eyes— loved me more than he did his own son. He reached out to me as his voice echoed another hearty laugh. We hugged. His gripping embrace seemed to say “its been too long,” and “don’t let me fall” all at the same time.
I felt as if my grandpa loved me for someone who I could be, but had never proven myself to be. I felt that he didn’t care, because to him, I could do no wrong. I felt his affection was undeserved. I feel that he sees in me something that I never will, and honestly, may not ever want to. I believe that someone can eternally influence your life, even if they are only in it for a short amount of time.
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