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My Grandfather - My Role Model

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My grandfather’s hands hardly appeared photogenic. They were red, cracked, and rough, and they often bore cuts and scratches from whatever mechanical object he had last worked on. I knew those hands from an early age. They used to slap my back as soon I stepped out of the minivan and onto his driveway. I never cringed, and I never had to look to see who was the perpetrator. “Hey there, troublemaker! I hear you’re failin’ all your classes!” he would say. I would flash him a wide grin, missing ‘theeth’ and all, and allow him to wrap me in a bear hug, fully smothered by his 6’2” frame and the overpowering scent of Old Spice. My grandmother would stand by the door sending a disapproving look his way. Though she hated my grandfather’s teasing, I knew it was his subtle (and only) way of praising my accomplishments.

My grandfather was, after all, a subtle man. He didn’t need words to express his feelings about something (with the exception of his teasing and his all-too-frequent jokes at the dinner table, which my family secretly thought were hilarious). Rather, it was through his actions that I could tell that he truly loved my family. Whenever my grandmother and I played flute and piano together in the front room of their house, he sat motionless in his chair, deliberating and smiling. I never told him, but that meant more to me than all of my parents’ verbal praise put together. I celebrated the fact that he wanted to listen even though he couldn’t read a note of music. Although he never made exclamations after my Sunday church performances, all he had to do was wink and I knew he was my biggest supporter.

I write this essay about my grandfather because he served as a valuable role model to me in that he loved not only his own family, but also his community. He was constantly repairing or improving one thing or another for his church and his friends, drawing upon his vast knowledge of tools and mechanics to help mend the community. Those rough hands never stood idle; they were always working on some sort of project.

Now that Grandpop is gone, I wish I had taken a moment to let him know how much his silent support and service changed me. My parents always repeated time and time again that actions speak louder than words, but my grandfather was the one who led me to believe that. And to this day, with every ‘A’ I receive, I know he is standing there with a rough hand on my shoulder, smiling and laughing at what a dumb child I am.

I love you, Grandpop.

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