Growing up, I remember going over to my grandparent’s townhouse. I often went to the park with my grandfather who, at the time, needed a cane to walk. I didn’t think anything of it then, being little meant having fun. Right? As I got a little older, my Grandfather lost his ability to walk and went to using a wheelchair. Being a little older than four then I didn’t quite understand what happened or why he couldn’t go to the park with me anymore, I even asked my parents “When will he get better? I’ll go make him a get well soon card!” They told me that he wouldn’t get better, that there isn’t a cure for multiple sclerosis. I still didn’t understand, not until he died did that meaning become clear. The summer before 8th grade year, his health took a turn for the worse. He became hospitalized and the family found out he had cancer, once again, no cure. Death and cancer weren’t a new concept for me, what I hadn’t experienced was he was ready for death, accepting. He lived a hard life, stories existed and I hadn’t heard them. At his funeral, I learned many things that I never knew of, things I hadn’t thought of asking him, I regretted it. After the funeral, my dad told me more about him, what he’d been through, what he thought. It all shocked me. I specifically remember the story of my grandpa and his father. My dad told me that when my grandpa would drink and get drunk, he would often stumble around and state, “Dad, I am something! I am worth something!” I took those words to heart, I learned how much it hurt someone, being told they were unimportant or worthless. Before, I used those type of words often, usually in an attempt to hurt or upset my sister for hurting my feelings. Ever since that, I believed that everyone is important, everyone is something.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.