In July of this year, my family found out that my grandfather had maybe two years left. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), or bone marrow failure disorder. Essentially, the bone marrow does not produce enough mature healthy cells, leading to low blood cell counts. MDS can progress to acute myeloid leukemia. Receiving the news was one of the weirder days of my life. I remember my mom calling me in tears and it felt like half of me was in shock, but the other half was just like "this can't be real." It still kind of feels like that, because I don't want this to be real.
It is now November, and my grandfather's doctors have now said that he may have three months left. Whether he has three years or three weeks left in this life, I am making a point to spend as much time as I possibly can with him. It's not easy since I live in Orlando, so thankfully the holidays are coming up and I will have more time to be with them.
My grandpa has lived an amazing life. He has traveled the world, built a successful business, and made countless memories. He told me that he does not feel like he missed out on anything and that he is content. I think that's what we all want in the end, to feel accomplished and like we have truly lived. This is just one of the ways that my grandpa is an inspiration to our family and those who surround him.
To my grandpa, thank you for teaching us all what family is. Family is not always defined by the blood you share. My family is by no means the "traditional" definition of a family. We've had divorces, separations, adoptions, and a whole lot in between that led us here. I have never thought that any of it makes us less of a family because it doesn't.
Thank you for teaching me the value of hard work and patience. He has watched me grow up and go through the motions of life, at times becoming frustrated when things get tough or when I can't figure something out. He has been patient in trying to understand what I want and what my thoughts are. While we differ in our views on some things, he always gives me a chance to share what my perspective is.
Thank you for taking care of all of us. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa has been the one to lend a hand and provide the help that is needed. Growing up was at times a challenge in all aspects, and I genuinely cannot fathom what it would have been like without my grandfather.
Nothing I write could do him justice, but what I know is that I have been very lucky to have someone like my grandpa in my life. I know many people do not get to grow up near their grandparents and I am grateful that I did. I will carry him in my heart each day and do all things with him in mind, always encouraging me.