My grandfather is an amazing man.
He’d buy my family groceries so that my brother, sister and I wouldn’t go hungry. There were many years where he'd buy me new clothes for school because mine were old and I didn't want to be embarrassed by having clothes that were torn or had holes in them. He paid our rent so we wouldn't be evicted.
My grandfather always took care of my family's needs when my parents were unable.
When I was a baby, he’d come home from work during lunch to play with me and he’d read me a new book every day. He tried to teach me how to play golf when I was 7, and I was no good. He had a lot of patience. When I was 12, he taught me how to build my first computer from scratch. He always stuck up for me: When I wanted to join the fire department, when I wanted to work in emergency management and when I decided to run for city council. He was proud of me. When he retired from the job he worked at for 30 years, he took my entire family to Disney World.
At 72 years old, he'd accomplished a lot. He was married for 54 years to the same woman, and they had a pretty good relationship.
On March 23 of this year, he took my mother and I to see his parents. But really, we were escorting him to see him mom and dad in Florida for one last time. When I got to the airport with him, I found out he'd gotten us first class tickets. It was bittersweet: He had to use up all his airline miles before he died. And he knew he was going to die.
When the cancer spread to his brain, it took two weeks before he died. He didn't want to die in a nursing home, so I helped my grandmother keep him at home. The last two weeks that I spent with him, he told me he loved me more than he ever had in his life. I'd sit in the room with him at his house working diligently beside the hospice nurse to make sure he was comfortable. I gave him his medication whenever it was time and made sure he wasn't in any pain. I fed him when he was no longer able eat on his own, placed ice packs on his forehead to break fevers.
He didn't talk too much in the last few days, but I did read him a book about finding his own personal legend. He wasn’t able to respond, but I knew he heard me. I didn’t want him to feel alone.
Later after reading to him, I lifted up my six year old daughter to give him a kiss on the forehead and say bye for the night. She told him bye and said she’d love him forever. She also said she’d be sure to tell everyone how much he loved us. As I took her out of the room, my grandfather stopped breathing. He passed that night.
It's been exactly a month since he died. If there was one thing I could have changed, it would have been talking to him more. Please help me honor him by calling your parents or grandparents today. And please send me an e-mail to know what you guys talked about. It'd brighten my day.