July 5, 2001: A Day that I will never forget. We had just come back from the church and the cemetery after burying my grandmother. Everyone was gathered in the backyard, eating food and remembering her for the truly amazing woman she was, everyone except for my grandfather and I. We were sitting in his living room, away from all of the chaos. He had been very sick, and this was the first and only day he had been home from the hospice in quite a while. I saw with him, in silence, for hours, knowing that eventually, he would say something. When he finally did speak, he said the saddest eight words that I have ever heard, “ What am I going to do without her?” To this day, I break down every time I think about that moment.
July 20, 2001: Just seventeen days after my grandmother’s passing, my grandfather passed on. He had hung on for as long as he possibly could. He had lived for so many years with my grandmother at his side, and without her, it was just a matter of time because he left us to join her. So again, family and friends were gathered in the backyard reminiscing on the life of Roger H. Gerry. He did so much for the town of Lynnfield, and was always there for my family. This time, I was sitting in his living room, in his favorite chair, thinking about those eight words, only saying them to myself. “What am I going to do without him?” For eleven years of my life, he had been my rock and I went to him for everything. When I got into a fight with my parents, he was there. When I hurt myself outside, riding my bike, he was there. He was so important to me and when he passed away, I was lost.
As I am sitting here, writing this, I am thinking about all of the great things my grandfather had done. He, along with my grandmother, raised 3 children, including my father, who are the kindest, most genuine people, just like he was. Every year on my birthday, he sand in the loudest, most obnoxious voice every, so that I would smile, instead of turn red. He went to church religiously and played golf with my parents after. He would always throw a ball around the yard with me, even though he could never catch it. Years after his passing, my father found a certificate from the government of France, thanking my grandfather for his services. He was their hero, and he is mine too. He taught me my multiplication tables and how to sing. Most importantly, he taught me how to love and be loved, something that one day I hope to teach my grandchildren.
My grandfather was an amazing man who saw faults in no one. He is, and always will be my hero, and this is why I believe in heroes.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.