There are a lot of reasons to quit something. This is not an article about quitting. It is an article about rising up to overcome life’s challenges.
Some obstacles are placed upon us by outside forces and some we place upon ourselves. Regardless of what these challenges may be, people who truly care are usually the ones that end up carrying the heaviest burden – even when the weight isn’t all theirs to carry.
It’s been 3 months and 4 days since Grandpa left this world. Death is a surprising and terrible thing, and even if you’ve dealt with it before it can still be a jolt to the systems of those left behind. Most of it still doesn’t feel real. It seems like just yesterday I was a little boy riding next to Grandpa in his airplane across the Ohio sky.
It’s amazing how things so small can trigger emotions to rise up out of deep inside. The other day I was cleaning out my closet and found Grandpa’s old hat. I’m not sure how it came to be in my possession, and I even remember him telling me he had lost it. I remember shrugging my shoulders and wondering where he might have placed it? Then, 3 months and 1 day later it turned up and forced me to address feelings I’d been trying to suppress. I sat down and cried.
This unlikely moment made me think of my Grandma.
It’s been almost 2 years since Grandma was diagnosed with cancer.
My Grandma is the kindest, most outgoing, friendly, and most-caring person I’ve ever met. She serves as the model by which I try to live my life. She has been a source of support and inspiration to me, and is (little did I know) one of the toughest people I’ve ever met.
Day in and day out she battled. Day in and day out my family battled with her – Grandpa included. For those that don’t know it, Chemotherapy is one of the worst possible things a person can go through. My Grandma battled it with a smile on her face.
She even found time to make others smile. After her hair fell out, she bought a wig. It wasn’t just any wig, it was a dreadlock wig. Picture a 70-year old woman walking around the doctor’s office proudly with a dreadlock wig and you’ll know everything you need to know about my Grandma.
Last year for Christmas, I was able to give my Grandma a present that I never thought I would give – a purple bracelet. This wasn’t an ordinary bracelet, but the bracelet of a cancer survivor.
Grandma and Grandpa were married for over 50 years. They battled through their whole lives.
Grandpa was passed around from orphanage to orphanage as a child, only to rise up and scratch out a successful living in the bowling industry – all to provide for his family that included four children. He worked as hard as any man I’ve ever known.
Grandma battled and beat cancer, and has served as a role model for so many people who’ve been lucky to be a part of her life.
As a couple, they battled the loss of their son at age 29 to a drunk driving accident.
When I think of these things, I wonder why after 2 years of fighting one of the worst diseases known to man God saw fit to make my Grandma sit by and watch Grandpa fade away, after they’ve both struggled so much? They are both good people who’ve faced down so much adversity in their lives, and certainly deserved better.
I’ve asked myself over and over again how this is fair? It’s not that I want Grandma to go anywhere, it’s more that I’d rather not see her have to go through more pain and torment.
Thinking of these things made me feel sorry for them, and made me feel sorry for myself. As many people can probably attest, battling adversity and illness to loved ones can be just as taxing on those around them who fight with and for them.
Many times I asked myself why?
And then, 3 months and 1 day later I was cleaning my closet and found my Grandpa’s old hat, a black hat with yellow writing from that he’d purchased on his and Grandma’s 50th anniversary which they celebrated in Hawaii. Then, I knew.
We fight for the little moments. The little moments where something as trivial as a hat brings you to tears and suddenly makes the burdens that at times seem like boulders worth bearing.
My grandparents were fighters and so am I. I decided to give this site a makeover (yet again) in order to cleanse myself and move forward with my life.
Late this summer, I got engaged to the love of my life. She has battled with me and my family every step of the way and has been a gift from God.
Two days ago, I finished my last college class before I receive my first-ever degree. Previously, I had dropped out of college, and the struggle to get back and finish a degree has taken more out of me than I could ever imagine. I also set myself up to continue furthering my education.
I’ll be 31 when I finally finish school, having attended college almost as long as grade school. This makes me unhappy.
But as I said before, it’s the little moments…
Like holding your grandson and looking into his eyes shortly after his birth…
Like finding my Grandpa’s hat, giving my Grandmother a hug and a special bracelet on Christmas, hitting the “Send” button on my last college course before I get my first degree, or hitting the “Publish” button on this Post which will usher in my return to blogging after several months away.
I just keep telling myself, it’s the little moments.
P.S. For those of you who are wondering, the picture above is one of my favorite pictures ever! It is a picture taken of Grandpa holding me shortly after my birth circa 1982 in Wiesbaden, West Germany. My dad was in the Air Force and stationed in Crete when I was born, however I had to be delivered in Germany as Crete didn’t have a good enough hospital.
Also, I wanted to thank my cousin Angie Dugan for her amazing personal photography work that I used for this site.