The Trembles

Ashlie - Allendale, Michigan
Entered on April 13, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, illness

I believe in trembles. When I was a child it started off with my grandfather lifting me off the ground for a bear hug giving me little shakes up and down while he did it. Most people don’t know their grandparents as well as I do, but I like to think that I’m one of the lucky ones.

The next time we faced trembles together was on the 14 hour flight to Tokyo when I was ten. Although I had been on a plane before, this was my first flight where dad and momma wouldn’t be there to protect me. The plane trembled, I trembled, and my grandfather held my hand to calm me down, assuring me that everything would be alright. This is when I learned all the little things about my grandfather; his stories, temper, and the love that only a grandpa can have for his granddaughter.

The trembles came again, this time as Parkinson’s. I didn’t know what to make of it but assumed that he’d remain the same, at least for a few more years. Long behold I would find myself baffled by his alteration. I saw it a little after a year from being diagnosed. My grandparents drove the six excruciatingly boring hours to watch my younger brother’s high school graduation. As I walked into my house I expected them both to swarm me with hugs, kisses, and questions of how classes were going and that boyfriend of mine… oh what was his name? But I was only received by my grandmother. As I walked to the couch where my grandfather was sitting, I could see he instantly wanted to stand up and do all those things that grandmother could, but somehow was locked down.

I held out my arm and his trembling hand grasped it. Later, when I had a chance to be alone, tingles went up my back. How could this man who was so outgoing and vivacious, who had raised four kids on a teachers salary, traveled the world, and been one of the most well-known men in five counties (for his crazy antics. I kid you not, almost every one in that area can tell you a story about Dan McClain) have become like this? It’s hard to see someone you’ve admired your whole life be there in front of you, but not really there.

Last summer, as my entire family unit of almost two dozen gathered at our cottage, it was refreshing to see that although grandfather wasn’t as fast as he once was, he still joined in all the activities. We played cards that night and sure enough he was down to join in. He tilted his ball cap to the side and with a smile said “I’m ready to play, gosh dangit.” I got the trembles, but the happy ones, which let you know everything will be okay. He may be slightly different than he was, but I can still see the old him and I’ll always know that we’ve got the trembles.