This I Believe

James - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 24, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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The Influence Of Grandparents.

I believe the influence grandparents have on their grandchildren is many times greater than the influence a parent has on their child. Parents have to instill discipline and structure to their children; whereas grandparents often have the sole job of providing love. This love should not be undervalued or underestimated.

I was fortunate to become close with my mother’s parents. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side equally provided me with shared values, learned lessons, and instilled beliefs from the stories they told me and the everyday interaction I had with them.

Through my grandfather’s difficult, yet memorable life, I realized how fortunate I truly was. The events that he witnessed in his life, and which became a reality for him are things today, I still don’t completely comprehend even after being told them so many times. There are many things: his father being brutally killed by the Turks in the Armenian Genocide in the year 1915, and being in an orphanage for 3 years following his father’s killing because his mother, who gave birth to him at 16, wasn’t capable of providing for him. It is important to acknowledge all these horrific events and circumstances because in many ways it explains who my grandfather was and who he became. By addressing these events, my appreciation for the man constantly grows everyday, even after his death a little over a year ago.

At a fairly young age, I slowly grasped the idea that all these tragic elements of my grandfather’s life molded his great character and strong will to live, rather than simply existing. These are the things I take with me everyday, and I remember these things when I encounter difficulties in my life. His life serves as a purpose for mine.

My grandmother’s life greatly varies from her husband. First, she wasn’t an immigrant. She was born in Detroit and didn’t have the dramatic and devastating stories my grandfather was able to provide. Besides their beginnings being greatly different from each other, so were their personalities. My grandfather was a charismatic and talkative man, who liked to be the “man of the party”. In contrast, my grandmother was very modest and unassuming; it didn’t take much to satisfy her.

I always had great love for my grandmother growing up. This love grew beyond levels I can’t describe, when my grandfather suffered a stroke and he became dependant on her care. The love she displayed to him in the 5 yrs after the stroke was simply remarkable. Her conviction to make my grandfather feel valuable and content daily was unquestionable. Both of these relatives had a great impact on who I have become today.