My grandfather, David, died in 1999; he lived only half a mile up the road from where I grew up in upstate New York. Every day, he would walk down to our house to bring my dad the newspaper. Along with the paper he would bring a small bag of treats for my two brothers and me. Sometimes it was candy, and sometimes it was pretzels or crackers.
Western NY is infamous for having severe winter weather; rain, sleet, or even 3-feet of snow. Even when he was 81, he still walked the half-mile every single day. As a child, I looked forward to the daily treats, but now that I'm older, I realize that he braved the harsh weather each day just to see us smile; I now appreciate that more than anything.
My grandfather touched many lives, evidenced by the more than 1,500 people at his wake. A woman who had been confined to a hospital bed for 5 years came the wake with an aid to pay her respect. She told me that my grandfather would visit her twice a week at her home; to read to her, play bridge, or just converse. For 5 years he would visit twice a week--without fail. She rarely had other visitors. She told me that my grandfather was her only friend. But, she wasn't the only person to share her story with me. Others came throughout the two-day wake and told me how my grandfather touched their lives, too. Even hitchhiker who my grandfather had picked up two years before told me of my grandfather's impact in his life; he was homeless in a New York winter and my grandfather gave him a place to stay and a warm meal. The man told me that no one had ever been so nice to him. He has since found a job working in a supermarket and earns enough to afford his own apartment. I was inspired, but not surprised to hear all of the touching stories.
The two-day wake really opened my eyes to my grandfather's selflessness. I have since tried to model my own life after his. He would help anyone, in any way he could. Whether it was buying groceries for an elderly woman, or bringing treats for his grandkids--wherever he went, smiles followed. My grandfather is far more than just my hero; he is my inspiration.
Submitted by Anonymous
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