Written By: Alison Matwick

January 28, 2018

In May 2012, I swore I would never take anyone for granted again. That was the month my grandfather died suddenly, and one of the hardest times I’ve experienced. Before he passed away, I didn’t realize how much he meant to me. Of course, I loved him, as is typical of a grandchild, but I never took the time to really be grateful for him and all the little things he did for me. He taught me so much, like how to make a great root beer float, how to golf, and how to wood-work. More than that, his quiet, serious, and dignified personality was a great inspiration to me and showed me the merits of being calm, reserved, and stoic. He was a “hands-on” grandfather who was always willing to go for a bike ride or a hike or to play any sort of game I came up with as a child. Most importantly, he taught me what it means to be part of a community. He was an active part of his community and following his retirement from the air force not only volunteered for several organizations but also served as an Honorary Colonel.
Everything he taught me has shaped who I am as a person today, yet I never realized as a child how important my grandfather was to me. I wish I had told him exactly how meaningful everything he taught me was, but I never did and now I won’t get the chance to.
Not only was he a very active grandfather, he was also very generous. Only weeks before he passed away, he and my grandmother took my younger brother and me on a weekend getaway to a hotel a few hours away from home. It was a lot of fun, and we went shopping and got to explore a new city. However, the memory that I hold dearest from this trip is that when we went to the hotel pool, I convinced him to go on the waterslide for the first time in his life, and he loved it. I wish I had known at the time that “We ought to make every moment count, because it may be the last”, because that memory of the waterslide is one of my last memories of my grandfather, yet I the time I didn’t find it notable or special at all.
Only two weeks after our trip, my grandfather died suddenly of cardiac arrest while golfing. Although he had had heart problems most of his life, it never occurred to me that he might not live to see me grow up, graduate high school, or start my own family someday. If I could go back, I would tell him exactly how much I cared for him and what a huge influence he was then and is now on how I live my life, and how I learned the hard way to appreciate every moment I have with the people I care about.