It’s Hard to Grow Closer to Someone you Know is Going to Die
I grew up in a loving family, we were very service oriented — giving of our time, talent, and treasure to help those in need. My parents constantly set an example, to show love in everything you do; give of yourself to make someone’s life better. I’ve been very blessed in this life, and cannot think of better way to enjoy these blessings than to share them with others. I have my parents to thank for this attitude.
A little under a year ago, my family and I were in Ohio for our annual family vacation. During that time, I’ll never forget the day, we received word that my grandfather had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. The news was shocking, my grandfather had always been very healthy, active, and extremely involved in his grandchildren lives; we couldn’t believe it. Shortly thereafter, a decision was made for our family to move to Houston, TX to be with my grandfather for his last months, caring for him, spend time with him, and being there for my grandmother in this difficult time.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I come from a large family— I have eight siblings, five of which are younger than me. I still can’t imagine what they must’ve been going through within those two months we packed our things, said our goodbyes, and moved three hours away to be with my grandparents. Everyone handles change differently, such a dramatic change in such a short time, we turned their world upside down. It’s hard to leave your friends, and the community we’ve grown accustomed to. Children are very impressionable. They notice everything you do, and soak it all in. They’re like sponges, they pay attention to action and reaction; they’re very smart, they will act a certain way to provoke a reaction in you to get what they desire. And for my siblings, ages five to fifteen at the time, they were witnessing all this change, all this reaction to my grandfather getting sick. For six months my siblings got to witness the love shared between my grandparents, being married just shy of fifty years, my grandmother never stopped caring for her husband. There is something so beautiful about caring for someone, who is physically unable to return your kindness, or repay you in any way. It is the rarest form of love, but I believe it’s the most essential to attaining sainthood. Young children are so pure, so vulnerable. They’re the ones that really have it figured out. They always think of the good in other people, there’s no judgment. When their parents care for the sick, they recognize that choice to love someone. Love is a choice. When you choose to care for someone, who is sick, you are loving them in the purest way. There is nothing greater (1 Cor 13:13). The world we live in today is very self centered, lacking kindness. Society is slowly contorting to a very parasitic mentality. What can you do for me? If I do this for you, what am I getting out of it? Caring for the sick is the complete opposite of that.
I Wouldn’t Have Changed A Thing
Looking back, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. At the time, I couldn’t see clearly the big picture. I was starting my senior year in high school, and couldn’t clearly see beyond my own selfish mentality that I would have to sacrifice my senior year with all my friends, to spend six months growing closer to a man that I look up to in every way, just to watch him suffer, and end up leaving me forever. I thought, and prayed about it for a long time, part of me wanted to believe that he was going to get better, that we were overlooking a piece to the puzzle, and that we could find a different solution to this scenario, but deep down I knew sooner or later I’d have to stop kidding myself. This was God’s will, as crazy and messed up as it seems sometimes, everything happens for a reason. While it’s hard to choke back tears, and look at this big picture — I would not be the person I am today without that time I had to care for my grandfather. I’ve grown more over those six months my grandfather had to live after his diagnosis, than I had in my life. He set such a powerful example for me to grow spiritually. He continues to have such an impact on my life, even though he’s no longer here on this earth. He’s the most selfless person I know, and somehow I’d like to believe a little bit of that rubbed off on me.
I hope and pray everyday, that my younger siblings will grow up and form into holy men and women, who find their identity in Christ and with that, love and serve others. They may not remember all the great things my grandfather used to do with us, taking us on adventures, helping us see the world through eyes filled with so much gratitude, but they’ll remember the times when love was shown by others when they cared for him. Hopefully, they’ll remember the way his children came together to be with him every Sunday to spend time just being there, and the way he would contemplate life after death without fear, but with awe and wonder.