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“Millions long for immortality but do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon,” sharing her views on life, Susan Ertz describes the force that has the ability to unify all of humanity. Life, the cool summer dew forming on the morning grasses, soon to be dried up by the summer sun. Life, the glowing silver coating on a nail, only to be corroded by the harsh, oxidizing air. Life, cherished by many, yet wasted by so many others. The ideas of immortality and life have been provoking different thoughts and philosophies in the minds of humans for ages. Some view life in a cynical manner, wondering what the point of life is if it will all end sometime. Others believe that every moment of life should be savored and that if our days on earth are numbered, each one should be enjoyed. I agree with the latter philosophy, which has been corroborated with evidence from my own life.
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The revelation of enjoying every moment in life first came to me from my grandfather. My grandfather was a man of distinct appearance, with a rough gray beard, a prominent nose, and two deep brown eyes that radiated joy everywhere they looked. Those eyes could make a stranger feel at home. They were welcoming eyes that beckoned everybody to come near and listen to the stories that they had witnessed. He stood tall at six feet and was a big, strong man who never hesitated to play a game of basketball or soccer with me. Visits to my grandparents’ house were sparse, however, because they lived in India, while I was growing up in Wisconsin. The rarity of our visits added a special significance to each one and allowed me to cherish the time we spent together. I highly anticipated my grandparents’ visits, planning what stories we would read or what games we could play in advance. I always enjoyed our heated games of checkers, with my grandfather’s eyes slowly pouring over the pieces, analyzing every possible move, and my small hands barely grasping the small disks, causing a smile to ripple across my grandfather’s face. It almost seemed as though he had an endless list of enormously entertaining things to keep me occupied for hours on end.
Even on the rainy and gloomiest of days, we would always find something enjoyable to do. In one instance my grandfather and I were outside kicking a soccer ball, when suddenly the deafening crash of thunder shook the earth and a sharp bolt of lightning cracked in the distance. Very quickly, the ideal summer afternoon had turned into a site for the heavens to unleash their torrential fury upon us. I started to walk towards the door to the house, but my grandfather called out to me, suggesting we stay out a bit longer to play some more soccer. I hesitantly agreed, and ran back into the yard, the warm rain soaking through my clothes. The ball quickly became muddy, and we both slipped about, unable to contain our laughter. We played in the rain until our shoes were caked in mud, and then came inside to indulge ourselves warm snack, my grandfather’s loving eyes watching me with compassion the whole time.
As the years slowly passed by I noticed a decline in our visits to my grandparents’ house. One day, longing to see my grandparents I asked my dad when we would next visit. His response was that grandfather wasn’t feeling well and it would be six months before we could visit him. I excitedly waited for six months to pass. The time passed excruciatingly slowly, but finally, we were going to visit my grandparents. Upon arrival at their home, I immediately noticed something different about my grandfather. It was in his eyes, the eyes that had all of the youth in the world, the eyes that looked out at the world with pride; they now seemed laden with fatigue and sorrow. I asked him what was wrong, and I was met with the response, “I am feeling tired. That’s all.” The next day I asked him if he wanted to play checkers, but my grandfather reluctantly refused, saying that he was too tired to play. I was rejected with the same excuse when I offered a game of soccer. I was heartbroken. I thought that my own grandfather was bored of playing games with me, but little did I know of what was really happening.
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One night, there was a commotion down the hallway, two doors down from my bedroom, in my grandfather’s room. I woke up, dazed and confused, and saw flashing lights outside the window. My mom told me that we had to go to the hospital and that everything would be ok. I unwillingly got into our car and tried to sleep during the solemn ride to the hospital. At the hospital I was told to sit on a bench with my parents, who were both very tense. Soon a doctor came out of a room a few doors away and looked at us. My parents shot up, expectantly waiting for the doctor to say something. The doctor simply gave one somber shake of the head, and my mom burst into tears, as if on cue. I did not know what had happened. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to play checkers with my grandfather again. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to listen to his voice tell one of his famed stories ever again. I didn’t know that those beautiful eyes, full of vitality and exuberance, would be closed forever.
And now, many years later, I understand the philosophy my grandfather used to live his life, and I intend to live by the same principles. My grandfather was always doing what he enjoyed and always carried himself with a jovial, caring outward attitude. I’m sure my grandfather was extremely happy with the life he lived. If faced with the question of immortality, my grandfather would have graciously declined, because he believed that it isn’t the length of the life that matters, but the memories and experiences that the life entails that really count.
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