This I Believe

Laura - Traverse City, Michigan
Entered on May 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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My Inspiration: His Legacy

My grandfather, whom we called Papa, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1990, the same year I was born. As I grew and began to develop my motor skills and coordination, Papa’s slowly began to diminish. Just as I was learning to complete full conversations, he began to struggle with managing and sharing his thoughts. In spite of our extremely different positions in life, I felt deeply connected to him; we shared an instant and unspoken bond. I’m not quite sure what caused such a connection, but I am reminded of it to this day and plan to keep it alive through my life choices.

I treasured the time I spent with Papa. I loved his gentle manner and understanding touch. With him, I could truly be myself and spend hours discussing the trivialities of my young life. Despite his personal battle for health, he continued to care for me and played an active role in my raising.. The last two years of Papa’s life were the hardest. Especially during his final year, he grew worse at an alarmingly fast rate. Oftentimes, he struggled to form words or even remember my name, yet, even in his darkest hour, he continued to be more concerned about my welfare than his own.

As one of the first surgeons in my hometown, I suppose it was in his nature to be both nurturing and strong. It was his influence that led me to consider a career in the medical field. His congenial bedside manner was apparent years after his retirement, and I was deeply impressed by his both his textbook and social knowledge. I am blessed to have such a prominent inspiration in my life and truly aspire to follow his model.

I believe in the passing of a legacy. Through Papa’s example, I strive to live my life as he did, humbly, graciously, and selflessly. I want to help others with the willingness he possessed, and I want to touch lives they way he touched others, especially me. Someday, I hope to be remembered as fondly as Papa. For now, I will work to continue his good name and continue the heritage. For I believe that, though a person may pass away, their memories are kept alive through the lives of others, and that is the very essence of a legacy.