Cherish your grandparents while they’re around

[dropcap]N[/dropcap]owadays, even your grandpa can get picked up as an Internet sensation overnight, and then turned into an online meme. Yes, Sad Papaw, I’m talking about you and your disgraceful grandchildren.

But all hilarity and memes aside, the minute that a picture was posted to Twitter of a defeated grandpa eating with only one grandchild at dinner-table after making burgers for all his six grandchildren, the Internet was awash with feelings of sympathy for him. Even though it was later revealed that there was a miscommunication between “Papaw” and his grandkids, it still sparked something deep within the hearts and minds of people that encountered this photo, including myself.

I wanted to address that throughout the course of this column, the “grandpa” I interacted with wasn’t my grandpa at all; in fact, I talked to many different people from my grandpa’s generation. With each week, I was able to address various topics and I got to see the differences between the generations — how we were the same and different, and ultimately, how things have changed over time.

My grandparents from both my mom and dad’s side have since passed on, all leaving legacies on my family and who we are. My mom’s father passed away when my mom was 16, so I never had the opportunity to meet him. My dad’s mother passed away when I was 7, followed by his dad when I was 16, and then my mom’s mother when I was 17.

One night, my maternal grandmother, before she passed away, looked at me with the endearing eyes she always had for me, and told me that she loved me. We were one month away from my 18th birthday when she said this. Then, heaving a laboured sigh, she repeated one thing that she always told me every time she saw me: “Always be thankful for your family.” She passed away a few weeks before my birthday.

Unlike many of my peers, my grandparents never lived to see the day I graduated from high school. They never saw my excitement when I received my first university acceptance letter or my first scholarship. They never got to ride shotgun in a car after I got my license. They will never see me graduate from university, get my first real job, get married, and start a family. And I will never get to hear my paternal grandmother’s singing voice, talk to my paternal grandfather about golf, or hold my maternal grandmother in a loving embrace ever again.

These simple words that I have always taken for granted, “Always be thankful for your family,” tore a hole through my heart when I saw the picture of the lonely Papaw. Even though it may have been a miscommunication and his grandchildren didn’t mean to not show up, the sentiment remains the same. You should always be thankful for everything that you have and everything that you are.

This column took me down memory lane time and time again, reminiscing of past conversations with those who have had a profound impact on my life. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about them and think about what life would be like if they still were here with me. And though I can’t turn back time, I am thankful for what they have given me: support, love, and a solid family to rely on.

Our grandparents, ever patient with us as we found our way through the world, taught us so much and showered us with unconditional love, and probably more gifts than we could ever imagine. The one thing we can do for them is to show them our gratitude and return their patience, especially in their times of need.