This I Believe

Helen - Birmingham, Alabama
Entered on January 27, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: illness
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Do you ever realize that complaining about something makes it seem ten times worse than it actually is? I know I’m a complainer, and what I’ve come to realize is that being positive helps the situation. It is my grandfather’s legacy that challenges me to be positive about every single event in my life whether big or small. I believe that having a positive attitude about your present circumstances can actually make them seem better.

My grandfather, Dennis Smith, had humble beginnings. He was born in 1924, a difficult time for almost every family in America. Living on a farm, he learned to be a hard worker, and there wasn’t much time for complaining. He served in the army during World War II, where he learned how to work with perseverance and fight with strength. The first thirty years of my grandfather’s life shaped and molded his positive character and appreciation for life.

At the age of seventy-five my grandfather was diagnosed with stomach cancer. This diagnosis would be enough to make anyone depressed. However, my grandfather was optimistic throughout the whole time he was sick. I never once saw my grandfather with a frown on his face. My grandfather always greeted me with a warm smile each and every time I walked through his door. He was more than happy to put away something he was working on to spend time with me. He would play endless games of 20 questions with me and would watch me climb the tree in his front yard for as long as I could climb. He taught me how to “street bowl” and showed me how to get my acorn to roll down the hill for the longest amount of time. I can’t imagine the weariness he must have felt due to the chemo and other treatments he was going through. Even if he felt awful I would not have known, because he had a positive attitude for the benefit of his family. He put each of his three sons and their families above himself and did not want anyone to feel sorry for him. When he lost all of his hair the first thing he said to me was, “Come rub my head for good luck!” As the cancer spread through his body he had more and more reason to complain, yet he never did. After battling cancer for several years, God took my grandfather home at the age of seventy-eight in 2003.

My grandfather is my hero. His silent strength is something I will always admire. His positive attitude towards his battle with cancer is a constant reminder to me that people will always be worse off than I am, and I have no reason to complain. Whether my situation is something as big as battling cancer or something as small as getting a bad grade on a test, my grandfather’s legacy reminds me to be positive no matter what the circumstance.