Growing up, I spent my entire life knowing only one of my grandparents from both sides of my family. My grandmother, Wanda, is the best grandmother I could ever ask for as she has taken care of me like she was my mother. But a part of me always wanted to know more. This year has been full of surprises, and luckily I had the pleasure of meeting my grandfather for the first time ever.
Four years before I was born, my grandfather was sent to prison. My father did not speak of him often, and that was all I knew. That changed in early October this year when my grandpa called my father to let him know he was being let out very soon. The entire dynamic of my family changed for the better after that.
It was almost as if my family was preparing to meet a newborn child. Everyone was buying gifts and clothes, preparing a bedroom for him, and gathering the entire family near and far. My great grandmother Maureen has lived in the same house in Los Angeles for 40 years, and for a lot of my family, that was the house they grew up in. All of my cousins, uncles, and aunts returned to their childhood home along with their children to celebrate my grandfather’s homecoming, and it was one of the most magical experiences, and possibly my favorite life experience, ever.
Spending 26 years locked away makes you miss out on a lot of things like technology, new additions to the family, music, trends, and even sports news which seemed to be very important to my grandpa. I spent three hours updating him on how to use his smartphone and how to book appointments online. Seeing his face light up with amazement was one of my favorite things, and quite amusing since this is normal to me.
However, the best part was watching him interact with all his grandchildren. There are about 16 of us, and he took the time getting to know everything we were doing. My heart started to ache when I realized how much he has already missed. He missed birthdays, graduations, a few funerals, and big family celebrations.
His outlook on this situation was a lot different. When we all tried telling him funny stories and how we were sad he couldn’t have been there to see it, he told us how grateful he was to sit there and hear us tell them. He hung on to every single word, but he made sure to let us know that he wasn’t sad about it all. In fact, he said he was more excited to make his own memories with us and live in the present. My grandfather said life is too precious to dwell on the past as it will make you miss out on the things that are right in front of you.
I was in awe of the situation because I have never met anyone with such a positive attitude in circumstances that don’t always seem so positive. It made me rethink how I see situations that I have been through in the past.
This is the most together that my family has ever felt, and the happiest I have seen everyone. All along the missing piece was my grandpa, and now we have a very large, but completed puzzle. I can’t wait to make new memories with my grandpa and with my entire family.
Deja Goode, a senior journalism major, is arts editor for the Campus Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.