Jul 9, 2011

All he has left

My grandpa has the gentlest soul I've ever known. I've never heard him raise his voice. Never seen him angry. He believes in forgiveness and second chances. He knows that no matter how hard of a life he had growing up, someone else's life was even harder.

He is a veteran of World War II. He battled cancer. He fought back after a series of strokes. If there is one thing people who meet my grandfather say about him it's this: He's got a fighting spirit. He's a tough cookie. If anyone can get through this, it's him.

My grandpa turned 95-years old in March. It was one year after the strokes. He is now in a wheelchair at all times. But that same energy and personality shone through when he piped up and said to the family, "So who's ready for 96?" We all raised our hands and he smiled and said, "I'll be here."

This past week has been tough for my grandpa - he had an infection which turned out to be MRSA. He's been seeing a lot of doctors and taking all kinds of medications. When my dad visited him the other day at his assisted living center, my grandpa said, "They've finally broken my spirit."

I cried when I heard that he said those words. I cried because I don't ever want to hear anyone say that - especially my grandpa. And I cried because I'm afraid that's all he has left. I understand that he's 95 years old. I know that he has had a good, long life. But he's still my grandpa. Everyone who knows him, and even those who only know him through the stories I tell, knows that his spirit is what has carried him through these years - growing up as a first generation American, serving the nation in war, losing the love of his life after 54 years of marriage, fighting cancer, etc.

It's difficult to see someone's body deteriorating, but it's almost worse to see someone's spirit dissolve because it is our spirit that sustains us.

Love you, Grampa.

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