This I Believe

Nellsyn - Lewisville, Texas
Entered on September 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Cherish What You Have

As a child, my sister and I would constantly spend time with our grandparents. My mom’s family was very close-knit. My grandparents and aunt lived within three blocks of us. My family is my best friend, thus, I believe family should be cherished.

I remember one night, around age five, my grandpa was walking me home. Hand-in-hand, we stared up at the endless stars and sky. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. “Grandpa? Will you come to my wedding?” Weddings fascinated me at the time.

“Well, sugar,” I knew this wasn’t exactly the response I wanted to hear, “I may not be around for that long.”

I took it as a joke and corrected his answer for him, “Sure you will, Grandpa. How could you miss my wedding?” He smiled and so did I.

“You’re right, precious. I’ll be there.”

On December 17, 1997, my mom’s dad died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. I can still picture that night perfectly, a dim and dreary movie I can‘t tear myself from. I started drifting off to sleep around nine or ten, extremely late for me, when my parents came home. My aunt babysat my sister and me that night. The low murmur of their voices echoed through our quiet little house. I sat up in bed, trying to snatch bits of their conversation. From my mother:

“Daddy…the doctors…” and from my aunt:

“Oh, my God…”

My mom came into my room a few minutes later to tell me what had happened to one of the sweetest men I’d ever known. When she told me, I first thought of that promise he had made me only a year prior to his death. At the age of five, death seemed incomprehensible to me, something I was totally naïve to. By the age of six, it hit far too close to home.

ALS is a rare disease that causes the deterioration of motor neurons in the brain that send impulses to the muscles. Once all the neurons are dead, the muscles slowly waste away. My grandpa used to tap dance. By five, an experienced performer. By Thanksgiving of ‘97, he couldn’t lift his own arms to say grace. Here is an example of a man who did nothing but live his life for God, but still lost control over everything that was rightfully his. Walter Wayne Walker made me realize through his death, that nothing lasts forever; that in an instant, everything in your world could come crashing down. Therefore, I believe you must treasure everything you have.

Now, I understand my grandpa wasn’t in his prime. I understand everyone eventually dies, but there is never an agreeable time for someone you love to leave you. My grandpa made me a promise, and you can be sure that when I stand at the alter next to my husband, he will be consuming my thoughts. He will be the one I long for the most when I say “I do.”