11/22/06 07:33 - ID#27735
5 years ago today
My grandfather was the best man I have ever known. He is probably the only male reason I am not (at least in my opinion) completely screwed up. He was much more of a father to me than my real father could ever be. He made me believe in myself and taught me the lessons that I carry with me everyday.
My grandfather was honorable. I still think about the way he treated my great-grandmother (his mother-in-law) when she was in a nursing home. My great-grandmother never liked my grandpa. She did not think he was good enough for her daughter and to insult him she called him "Dagwood" instead of his real name. Even after 50 years of being treated like he wasn't good enough, my grandfather went to visit his mother-in-law alone EVERY SINGLE DAY in the nursing home until she died. He made these visits for years, even after she didn't even know that he was there anymore. Once, when I was younger, my cousin and I mimicked some of the things that my great-grandmother said and my grandfather reprimanded us. He said we needed to respect her because she was a wonderful, intelligent woman. I couldn't believe that he could see her as that when she had treated him so poorly.
Although my grandpa cared for my great-grandmother, he really visited her because it was important to my grandma (who couldn't leave their house). His love for my grandmother is what I will search for my whole life. He adored her completely but still saw her for who she was, a flawed person. My grandparents did not have the perfect life together. My grandmother was anorexic for much of their marriage and ended up in the hospital over and over for years. My grandfather tried every type of treatment he could for her. Once when I asked if it made him mad that she wouldn't just eat (I was little), he said he didn't know why she was sick but that even if she stayed sick forever, it was worth being with her because of everything she gave him. It sounds simple but I don't know how many people could say something like that and really mean it. My grandfather always meant what he said.
To people who didn't know him, these stories may make my grandpa sound like a pushover but he was far from it. He served in the air force and refused to accept a purple heart for saving the lives of his crew because he didn't feel that what happened was something that should be celebrated. He never told that story, my grandmother did.
My grandfather had fierce integrity and I loved him so much. I used to talk to him every day and now all I can do is think of him instead. I try to consider what he would do when I have big decisions to make and I always think about whether or not my actions would make him proud. I still can't believe he is gone. I am so lucky to have him in my heart still but I wish I could have had him just a little longer. Most of all I wish that he could know that I am okay. He was so worried about me for the months before he died and I hate that he never saw that I was okay. I wish he knew that the strength I used to get better in those times came from him. I wish there was some way he could have known that he was more than everything to me.
Location: Tonawanda, NY
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