An Open Letter To My Grandfather

To The Grandfathers Who Put Others Before Themselves

Thank you for being the best grandfather anyone could ask for.

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Back in July of 1966, after you graduated high school by the skin of one's teeth, you enlisted in the United States Armed forces. The bravest decision any young man or woman could make. Soon enough September came around and you were headed off to basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey. You went to Fort Sam, Houston, then to Fort Devons, Massachusetts, then along cane February of 1968. You were deployed to Central Coastal, Vietnam which was north of Qui Non, Vietnam located in the Bin Din province. You were apart of the 44th medical brigade that was assigned to the 173rd Air Bourne brigade as a combat medic.

A few words you spoke one day that broke my heart were, "I was just 18 years old. I went from drinking beer as a teenager to being an adult in a matter of 24 hours. I was scared for 365 days." To even imagine what you and your fellow friends went through over there is absolutely terrifying.

Finally, the day had come. It was February of 1969 and you were able to come home, to come back to the land where you were born and raised, the land that your father fought for as well while he served in the Army during World War II. He earned a Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and other countless medals because of his heroism. You had a hero to look up to and I'm forever grateful that I have my hero to look up to too.

Whenever you tell any story, I can't wait to hear it. I can't wait to see the emotions you have while telling it, hear you laugh about all the good times you had or the seriousness of a dire moment you experienced. You're the bravest man I have ever met and you continue to persevere every day.

You live every day like you have no regrets. You always tell me that if you haven't had been in Vietnam you would've been at the Woodstock Festival. Unfortunately, you had to settle for the mud-pits in Vietnam rather than the mud pits in Woodstock where you would've been as high as the sky listening to Joe Cocker sing "With a little help from my friends," while he played the air guitar.

Thank you for taking care of me when I had no one else. Whether you know it or not, you have been my rock for a long time. Anytime I have something going on you're the first one I go to. You're always there to support every decision I made to the fullest extent possible. Whenever something goes wrong whether it's in school and it's a failing grade or I have a boy problem you're always there to pick me back up and tell me to keep going.

That it's just one bump in the long journey that you have ahead of myself. You're so proud of everything I do and I wouldn't anyone else by my side to go through this journey with.

I can't even imagine what life would be like without you and I don't ever want to. You have no idea how forever thankful I am to have gotten to know such a handsome, brave, and soulful man.

Although, I get so annoyed by how many times you tell me that the corner on River Street and Tefts Lane could possibly be slippery, that the temperature is below freezing so I need to be precautious, that the dial on the oven needs to be set one hundred degrees lower than what it says, or even how many times I voice my democratic opinion on your Republican self, I wouldn't want to hear it from anyone else. You're looking out for my youthful self and I appreciate that. I couldn't be more proud to call you my grandfather. I'll love you forever and a day!

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One Moment Changed My Family's Life, And I Will Never Forgive Nicotine For The Years I Lost

I knew a storm was coming even before that dreaded phone call.

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At 12 years old, I got a phone call that honestly changed my life.

The phone rang. It was around 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night. My mom had a board meeting that night and Dad had been taking care of us. The home phone rang repeatedly. I checked the number, I didn't know it. Dad said, "Who is it"? "Not a number I know," I replied. We let it go to voicemail.

Only a few moments later, the ring came again. "The same number called again." "Let it go to voicemail. Probably telemarketers."

See, it made sense that my mom wasn't home because her board meetings were, frankly, unpredictable. Little did we know, this would be a very unexpected phone call.

It sounds implausible, but I could tell something was wrong. It wasn't much later than I usually expected her, but it was late enough that I had been concerned for at least half an hour. I have no idea how I knew, but I knew.

Finally, they called my Dad's cell phone. That moment changed all of our lives as quick as a pencil's led snaps.

Since then, I have had a hatred of cigarettes, smoke, and nicotine.

My mom has COPD and needs a lung transplant. It's seven years later and she's still making it through, but it's not easy. It's not easy for any of us.

After that day I had to grow up at 12 years old. Even today, everyone thinks I'm 2-4 years older than I am. I'm mature because I had to grow up fast.

Sometimes I think of that as a blessing. In some ways, many of the things that resulted from that moment were. My mom stopped smoking, I really learned how to support myself and be self-sufficient, and I've gotten to travel to raise awareness about the real-life consequences of smoking.

But in so many more it has been the worst thing to happen to me. Hopefully, the worst thing that will ever happen.

In that time, and in my high school years, I got to constantly be concerned about my mom. I spent my 13th birthday visiting my mom in the hospital. During those dark times, all I really wanted was to bring red velvet cupcakes to the hospital and go to Taco Bell. I felt lucky to even get that. Every time I got a call during school I knew what was on the other side of that phone.

At 14, I was asking my parents about our money concerns. They told me to not worry, but I knew better. I knew that it was desperately hard for them to afford me, my sister, and all the hospital bills.

At 15, I was cooking, cleaning, and beginning to look at colleges. I had no idea how I would pay, but I knew I needed to for my parents. (Also, I sucked at cleaning and I only knew how to microwave.

At 16 I actually learned how to cook, and I began applying for colleges. I did it all on my own. I found scholarships, I wrote all my essays, all without help. My mom didn't need to worry about that.

Now, I've made it to college and I'm two years in, but 3.5 hours away from home and 4 hours from the hospital that my mom will inevitably someday get her lung transplant at.

One day, I got a call right before class. My mom got 'the call', and she was going to get ready to go to the hospital for that transplant. I cried for 30 minutes and almost missed class. It was the middle of the week, I had work and an exam on Monday and she would be 4 hours away. How could I go? On the other hand, though, it's possible that the transplant wouldn't go well, and this would be my last chance ever to see her. How could I not go?

That lung turned out to be non-viable, so it was a fluke, but regardless, the situation was real in the moment.

I fear constantly at college that I will get that call again. A call that could mean my mother's life will be completely turned around for the better or it could mean her life ends.

I worry every day about my mom and I have for the past seven years. I will never forgive nicotine and tobacco for taking away my childhood and making me fear for my adulthood, a part of my life that might not include my mom.

Don't let nicotine ruin your life. Don't make your children grow up too soon.

See more about my Mom's story from The CDC, "The Doctors," or Columbus news.

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Poetry On Odyssey: A Poem For Grandma

To my wonderful best friend to kick off our summer together!

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NANA


Mother.

Wife.

Sister.

Friend.

Daughter.

Grandmother.

All the glorious roles you have held in life.

Always wearing a smile with lipstick covered lips.

With your blonde short hair.

And glasses covered eyes of blue.

All the wonderful characteristics that make up you.


Happy.

Chill.

Friendly.

Kind.

Just casually cruising through this thing called life, with the best sidekick by your side.

The best of friends is what we are.

I love you so much even though you love me more!

Simply because you're the big to my little.


We have inside jokes,

Sayings,

Stories,

And more.

Adventures after adventures.

That is how we roll.


I love you tremendously Nana and I am blessed that God decided to make us family!

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