Off the Record

Family is everything

Thinking about losing a part of my childhood almost brings tears to my eyes.

For more than 50 years, my grandparents have lived in the same house. It was even personalized to fit my grandpa, with a John Deere tractor mailbox adorning the front yard.

By this time next month, my grandmother will no longer be the owner of the household where I spent much of my childhood.

There, we spent most of our weekends and gathered often for large family dinners and parties.

At around the age of nine, we moved next door to my grandparents, and when I was 17 and my grandfather passed away, we moved in with grandma.

Grandma isn't just a grandma to me. Growing up without a mother in my life gave her the opportune moment to step in when I needed her most. So for that reason, I don't call her grandma, grams or nana; I call her mom.

It's definitely time to sell her large house, but I can't help feel a sense of loss. I can't even imagine how she must feel leaving behind memories created over a span of more than five decades.

Of all the memories I've had in that house, good and bad, my favorite is a few days after my grandfather passed away.

He was a walking miracle most of my life. Diagnosed with skin cancer when I was just a toddler, my grandpa was told he had a few weeks to live. But by faith and prayers, he lived for more than 15 years after the fateful diagnosis. It was a true miracle; one my family gave all the praise to God for.

So when he finally did pass on, the memories of him filled the house, along with nearly 50 family members and friends.

The staircase where I spent much of my time on as a child, using it as an imaginary mountain or waterslide, was where I sat as folks sat around 'til the wee hours of the night, laughing at some of Grandpa's tales and crying, too.

I remember feeling sad, but also happy. Grandpa lived longer than doctors predicted, and for the last 15 years he was cancer free. Eventually, he succumbed to complications from a heart attack. But that night, when family members from all over the country rushed to grandma's side and were sitting in her house, I felt as though he was still there.

Grandpa was the best example of a human being I could have ever had. He was a devout Christian. Halfway through my childhood, he decided to read the Bible all the way through. He ended up reading it through to the end almost seven times.

Also, he always said what he thought. If he thought he was right, he would absolutely not back down. But, with humility, if he ended up being wrong or acted inappropriately, he would be up in front of the entire church congregation asking for forgiveness with tears in his eyes.

He was a little racist. But as a man of his time it was not entirely his fault, and that's not an example I try to follow. He was still honest, no matter what, and that is an example I will try to emulate and take to my own grave.

As I begin to start my own life, in a home of my own and with a family of dogs and my love, I know I, too, can make as many memories as my grandparents, one day.

But I never want to forget the life lessons taught to me by the ones in my life who loved me the most: my family.


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