Although hard to believe, it has been almost nine years since my Grandpa passed away. I've lost other family members before, but none left an impact on my life such as him. He was more than a Grandpa to me, he was a substitute parent and the friend I knew I could always count on.
In the spring of 1999 my family received the devastating news that Grandpa had cancer. I was fifteen years old at the time, but what small amount of child I had left in me begged and pleaded for the fairy tale ending, that my Grandpa was invincible. He had always been in my life, how could that change?
School was almost done for the year and I decided that my place was with him. Immediately following my last class I packed up my things and moved into my Grandparents house.
Looking back on it now I can honestly say that it was the best summer of my life. Although it was the hardest at many moments, I had more smiles and laughter in those nine weeks than I could have hoped for. Maybe it was due to the chilling sadness of the summers surroundings, my mind seemed to burn certain images into memory. I have this perfect recollection of Grandpa sitting on the couch watching the eleven o'clock news, as I walked up beside him holding an old alarm clock he had given me, he turns to see me with his chin ever so slightly pressed downward into his chest in an attempt to peer over his large brown rimmed glasses, and then a smile creeps across his face.
It's one of those smiles that curves right up, making me laugh a little to myself because it almost reminds me of a clown smile, then something tells me he's doing it on purpose. He reaches his hands out to me and I offer him the clock. You see, that clock had always been his and the key on the back that set the alarm was just as stiff as the clock was old. My little fingers just weren't strong enough to turn it, so every night I would go downstairs to my room, get ready for bed, collect the clock and take it to him. . .because his fingers did have the strength. . . . and every night he would smile at me, take the clock and set the alarm.
I suppose part of me believed that as long as his fingers were strong enough to turn that key, he was strong enough to keep fighting, strong enough to stay with me.
The memory of that night, although only a mere fraction of the time we had spent together, means more to me than words can express. To know the hardship he was enduring through his fight with cancer, that such a simple act could bring such a smile to his face. That in that moment, through the smile we both shared, we were together and we were okay.