I’ll never forget how it happened. As I watched my grandparents pull up next to my house in their little town car, I walked out to the curb. My grandmother got out of the car and gave me a hug, like she always does. Then my grandpa opened the car door and began the slow process of exiting the vehicle. His muscles were a shadow of what they once were, and I knew that his bones ached with every move he made. I helped him get out, gave him a hug and asked him how he was doing. Then, he slowly said something that I will never forget: “Uhh…what’s your name again?” He had forgotten my name.
I was very sad to hear those words come from my grandpa, but I had known they would be coming. My grandpa had worked for decades at the San Francisco docks. Six days a week for 12-16 hours a day, he would lift heavy barrels off one conveyor belt and on to another. The work was backbreaking, and he did break his back once. He also suffered three hernias and endless joint pain. The strain on his body eventually led to heart problems, which forced him to endure four open-heart surgeries. He lives with the help of a pacemaker and countless medications.
I believe in working long hours, late at night or early in the morning if necessary. Most people today are not satisfied if they can’t get a job at an office or in a cubicle. Working outside in the heat, or in the rain, or in some dark hole is not their first choice. I believe in hard, grueling manual labor. People may ask, why is that? The answer is simple. I believe in hard work because my grandpa did. His line of work was not glorious to most people, but he did it for a reason: he had to provide for his family.
Grandpa didn’t have much of an education, but he had to find something that he could do. When he started his job at the docks, he knew that he would be there for a while. He knew that his job would eventually break his body down like water beating on a rock. His body would be bruised, blistered, and battered, but he didn’t care. He had a duty to fulfill, a task to complete.
I believe in sacrificing for others. That’s what my grandfather believed in. He worked to make sure that my father could have an education and therefore a better life. Without my grandfather’s hard work, my father would probably be on my grandfather’s farm, and so would I. I hope to transfer my grandpa’s work ethic across generations to myself. I’ll never forget how it happened. My grandfather, hard worker and loving father, had forgotten my name.
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