From the Classroom – Held Hostage in my Heart

by Olivia Lowe

It was a struggle for him, my family, and me. I think most of us were ready and had prepared ourselves, but not me.

My grandpa had six children, a farm clustered with exotic giraffes and tigers, a superlative life, and many talents. In fact, he still holds the record for the longest intercepted pass for a touchdown when he played for the Wisconsin Badgers. He also owned 7,000 acres of horse and laughter grazed land north of Cotopaxi.

He was in college when he received five letters asking him to try out for the “cheese-head” Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and the Los Angeles Rams. Reasonably, he declined due to the fact that they didn’t pay as well back then and it was a totally different sport.

Later in his life, at the age 67, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was a health nut, never smoked a day in his life. Unfortunately, his parents smoked in their house; little did they know that it was unsafe. Cancer is one of those illnesses that can rapidly get better then suddenly get worse. That was his story. The cancer came and left his body, never deciding whether to stay put or not. When it once again arrived, he had one third of one of his lungs removed. Two years later, the cancer came back. From there on out he was in chemotherapy. The medicine made him extremely feeble. Hospice volunteers helped him get around and eat, trying to give him as much as they possibly could.

Before he became sick, my family and I would visit him like any family would. Not with the urge to hold back tears, but the sweet purpose of making memories and spending time with family. Every Easter my grandpa would hide color smothered eggs high in his willow trees and low in the shrubs.

“What’s that?” he’d question as he pointed an egg out to me.

Then, I would excitedly explode, “Ooo, I found another!”

The egg hunt was a competition on who got the most eggs once all of them were found. The winner, I guess, would just get a “yippee!” or an “awesome job” pat on the back. Easter is the holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but to me, not only is it a celebration, it’s a day filled with memories possibly sweeter than I realize.

After a long enough time without a drastic change in his health, my grandpa was sent to a hospital in Colorado Springs, an hour away from his home in Cañon City. He lay there in bed all day, like a mummy wrapped in snowy white clouds, watching TV and having not a clue what was going on.

I remember one time when I was visiting him in the hospital and he was eating a chocolate cupcake in bed. He couldn’t quite get all of the frosting in his mouth.

“Grandpa, are you done?” I asked him, trying to help.

“Would you like it?” he offered in his dry, wispy voice as he pushed it to me kindly.

I sat there, smiled back at him, and said “No, thank you, grandpa,” insisting he finish his cupcake.

Once he got to the point where his doctors knew he was going to die soon, they let him go home with his family. My mom visited him as much as she could at his house, cared for him, and talked to him.

When Thanksgiving rolled around we were going to visit him and spend possibly the last precious moments together. Right before we were about to leave to my grandpa’s, his wife called us to tell us the news I hold onto today. I ran to my room to cry, repeating what I heard from my mom on the phone.

I can’t help but think there was a reason that he died on the day we should be thankful for what we have. He brought me unforgettable memories and irresistible happiness. I’ve realized that you need to be thankful for what you have. Even if you realize how great that one thing is, you won’t truly know until it’s gone.

To this day my grandpa lives in Heaven, scoring touchdowns, riding horses, and watching over me.

William Austin Lowe, January 8, 1935- November 27, 2008

Olivia Lowe is a 7th grader at Salida Middle School and wrote this for a Language Arts assignment on the genre of “memoirs.”

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