|Grandpa Jack (pencil)|
I took into my hands to use my love for art to honor the man that was my "father" growing up, the man showed me what life really was. My grandfather passed on New Years Eve of 2015 after a long and gruesome three years of fighting against multiple cancers. I spent long sleepless nights holding his hand as he fought for his life in the ICU in September of 2015. He was bound to two different hospitals from the beginning of August 2015 to the middle of December. One week after he had come home with my grandmother and I, on Christmas Eve, he had different scans done determining that he had only weeks to live.
Most of my family had said their goodbyes on Christmas, knowing that it would be his last. That same day my grandfather looked into the eyes of his grandchildren and told us that he knew he would not make it to the new year. He had acted "fine" the night of December 30th. We had gone through the nightly routine of feeding tube changes and had left him to watch cartoons, his favorite thing to do. Out of a dead sleep I woke up from a nightmare that was just about to become real. My grandmother had come into my room and told me my grandfather wasn't doing well and that everything would be okay.
As I sat in my room, trying to decide what I should do, his life began to fade. I walked into the living room at three thirty in the morning to see my grandfather's mother, sisters, and brother along with my aunt, uncle and oldest cousins. I knew I was about to encounter something that I had feared for the past three years. That's when I heard the EMT's discussing how old my grandfather "was" and in that moment my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. It was a feeling that I have never felt in my 14 years of existence.
I quickly returned to my room with my dog as she was trying to get to my grandfather. My younger cousin, who was eight at the time was sleeping on the top bunk. I didn't want to have to tell her that he was gone, but she woke up and saw me in tears. My older cousin hugged us both and my grandmother took us into my grandfather's room. I held his hand and kissed him on his forehead, still warm and left the room. The EMT came into my home with a stretcher and advised me to go into my room for my own sake, but I stood in the hall, I watched them take him out of my home, his face uncovered out of respect and until his funeral that was the last I saw of my beloved grandfather.
This piece will always be a great part of my family's life, and I am so thankful that I could have created this for them, to keep his memory alive. As the reverend told me on the day of his funeral, "This is all in your hands now." Now I am putting it all into the hands of art, as I will always illustrate the golden heart that had beat within his chest for the 64 years of his life.