The combination of the cold and the wind sends chills to my very bones. He only lives a mile from our house and on a clear day, I can walk it in just fifteen minutes. But today, I left a little early because I knew I would have to watch my step. The snow was already starting to cover the sidewalks so I was deliberate in placing my foot down and ensuring I was not about to step on a hidden patch of ice.
When I looked out the window this morning, I just wanted to crawl back into bed but I had made a commitment. My grandmother had passed away a couple of months earlier and my dad hired a caregiver to live with my grandfather during the week. However, the caregiver wanted each Saturday and part of Sunday off. I volunteered to give up my weekends and sit with my grandfather so he could stay in his home.
My parents keep telling people how proud they are that I was willing to make this ‘sacrifice.’ Little did they know that I actually enjoy my time with Grandpa. His body is frail – but his mind is sharp as a tack. We talk for hours about his life as a young boy my age – of his time in the Army during WWII – starting his own small hardware store and watching it grow until he was able to sell out to a large change store and retire with Grandma. The places to which they traveled were documented in photo albums and he could remember the story behind each picture.
But most importantly, he listens when I talk – he understands the struggles of trying to fit in at school – he understands that I still am unsure of my future plans – he knows what it is like to feel alone in a room full of people – he even helps me with my homework and girl problems without judging me. So, this is not a ‘sacrifice’ – this is where I need to be each weekend.
Finally, I see his house. I climb the steps to the front door and ring the doorbell. Mrs. Smith, the caregiver, opens the door, “My goodness. You must have left early in the terrible weather to be here this early. Thank you for being so considerate.” With that, she put on her coat and boots, grabbed her purse and keys, and started out the front door.
“Be careful. The roads are starting to get covered with snow,” I said as she bid her goodbyes to Grandpa.
“Hey, Grandpa! Have you eaten breakfast?” I inquired as I removed my winter coat and hung it on one of the hooks by the front door. He nodded his head and smiled. I stood for a minute and just let the warmth of his toothless expression wash over me. I was so happy just to be with him.
“Okay,” I said as I sat down in the chair that I knew was occupied by my Grandma for so many years, “you promised to tell me how Grandma and you met. So, spill the beans. I’m waiting.”
“Well, it was just before the start of the big war….”