I know it's a new year, so it seems weird to post something old. I need to finish what I started, though. Here is the second entry of three writings from the last few years. I've been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately and so I think this is fitting. This is something I came home and wrote after an afternoon with my Grandpa. He passed away about 10 months after I wrote this. I'm so glad that I took a minute to put down my thoughts. He was and continues to be such an amazing man. I miss him so much, but I know that he is well and complete and whole. I post this not to be a downer, but because it is something that I wrote and that means a lot to me.
With a sad look on his face, my grandpa looked at me and wanted to know how I ended up with the task of babysitting, or “old man sitting,” as he called it. He is 87 years old and feeble. His body is no longer sturdy and neither is his memory. Suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s has stolen his faith in himself and a good piece of his dignity.
This is a man who once was a highly capable plumber, avid Houston sports fan, excellent crossword puzzle completer and faithful deacon and food pantry volunteer for the church. He looked different sitting there that fall afternoon. He was much thinner. His once clean shaven face was now grizzly with a grey beard. He looked tired. And now he was asking me why I was being punished by having to stay with him while my sister took my Grandma grocery shopping. My heart sank.
“This isn’t punishment, Grandpa,” I said. “It’s my pleasure to be with you.” He didn’t believe me, I could tell. “That’s nice of you to say,” he said. It was as if he was implying that I didn’t mean it. “You’re the only Grandpa I’ve ever had,” I said, as I fought back the tears. “You’re the best. You let me come to see you every summer for two weeks when I was a kid. You let me come and live with you guys for 3 years while I was in college. I would do anything for you.” He straightened up a little and said, “Oh?” He was seeing if he could remember those summers or those college years. I don’t think he could. “Well, that’s just what family does for each other, I suppose,” he said slowly. I was glad that I had the chance to assert my care for Grandpa that day, but I just wished he really knew how I valued him.
This has gotten me to thinking about self-worth and the value of life. I’ve determined that there has to be a way that we understand our self worth that goes beyond our present state at any given time. There are certainly times when we feel worthless, but that doesn’t make us worthless. There are times when we feel unimportant, but that feeling can’t be allowed to devalue our worth. The key, I believe, is that when things cause us to feel worthless, unimportant or devalued, we have to be reminded of the great potential that lies within.
Regardless of our stage in life, there is always potential for more good to come from our days. This is true of the unborn child. This is true of the 87 year old man. As long as there is breath in our bodies there is a staggering potential to create, enjoy and bring enjoyment. This revelation is something missing from our society, I’m afraid. Teenagers take their lives because of momentary relationship problems. Elderly are left to die alone in nursing homes. Unborn children are never given the chance to discover their purposes. And all because we forget about the great potential that all of us have for good.
I’m saddened by my Grandpa’s inability to remember his days in the past when he had great purpose and was accomplishing great things. More than that I wish that he could realize that he still has great purpose. If he has three days left or 13 years, there are still so many things that he can see and do in this life. There’s so much that he can experience. There’s so much hope and life that he has to offer. If only he could remember.