My grandfather provided us with love, security, understanding

By Myeisha Neal
My grandfather provided us with love, security, understanding

I still remember as if it were yesterday.  My grandfather made us kids the deal of a lifetime.  If we were up and dressed before the sun, he would reward us with a trip to the donut shop.  I can still remember barely sleeping in anticipation of our trip to the donut shop the next morning.

And once we finally arrived at the shop, Granddaddy would let us pick any donut we wanted.  While it might be insignificant to some, I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of rising early in the morning.  This is how my grandfather taught us to navigate life, to greet the morning sun and hear the sounds of animals and people awakening to meet a new day.  Now more than ever I appreciate those great life lessons, and I pass them on to my children.

In October, shortly after my last column in The Leader, my grandfather’s battle with colon cancer ended.  It felt to me as if someone had taken all of the air from the atmosphere, leaving me to suffocate. You see, my grandparents have always been a great influence in my life.  They helped raise me, and I probably would not be who I am today if not for their love and support. 

My grandfather was always that gentleman who opened doors and pulled out chairs for ladies. He kept a civil tongue and had few if any enemies.  He taught his girls to respect themselves, and he cherished us as princesses.  He taught his young men to be hard-working hunters and fishermen.  Although he grew up in the heart of Alabama, he was very embracing and taught us to understand the things we did not understand.  He was loving, he was kind, he was gentle, he was strong, and he was full of knowledge and wisdom.  He was my best friend.  He was my counselor.  He was my security.

I can’t help but feel lost at times without him. The world seems bit darker and grim, a bit colder, and a bit shallow and empty. The sound of his voice alone could help relieve the moments of hopelessness and destitute I sometimes experience in my own small world.  I take comfort in the memories, and I still laugh at his jokes. I refuse to forget the look on his face when he was so proud of me. I am so thankful that God allowed me to have such a love in this life.  I’d like to think that God’s love is much similar.

In our final moments together, I was able to share my memory of our donut days with him.  He had the most beautiful smile as I thanked him for his powerful influence in my life. I read Psalm 23 with him, a scripture he would quote to me when I was weak with cancer. My husband Eddie kissed his head after they prayed together, and Michael played a beautiful drum cadence, while Azalea told him about her school’s cross-country team. Joshua and Christian watched cartoons with him.  My children promised him that they would be great men and woman, and he told Eddie that he loved him, and was very proud of him. He told him to take good care of his girl.

Even in the end, my grandfather was strong, kind, gentle, and loving, and he never changed. I am thankful to have known him, to have loved him, and to have learned from him.  I know I am a better person because of him.  

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