An Open Letter to my Grandpa

Grandpa,

It’s me, Sammi. Thank God you still know who I am. I’m not sure how long that will last. But I will love you even when you can’t recognize me.

Your memory is slipping away. Your temper is boiling. You’re losing control. I know that deep down, as strong and stubborn as you are, your heart is breaking. Because you know; you understand what’s happening, you just can’t fight it. You can’t put it into words.

When you called me last week to check on my recent health issues, it was like the world stopped spinning — at least I wanted it too, just for those few moments. Your voice was so confident as you said my name and asked about my tests, as though you weren’t struggling to remember. In that moment, I realized just how much you love me. And I realized just how much I miss you.

I know you’re still here. And God, am I lucky for that. But it pains me to watch as you stumble on your words. It hurts to feel your embarrassment for forgetting the name of the restaurant grandma took you to last night, your frustration for not being able to figure out how to turn on the TV.

You were an engineer. You are the most intelligent man that I know. That will never change, no matter how many times you have to be reminded. Who you are will always be in your heart — and mine.

So when you’re in those moments, the ones where you find yourself burning with anger and devastation, when you feel trapped from not being able to take the car out for a ride alone, when you desperately want to scream out that you understand but can’t form the words — know that I am there for you. I will be there to speak your thoughts. I will be there to defend your character. I will be there to remind you of our hikes in Shenandoah, our campouts in your backyard, the time we snuck extra hot fudge on our ice cream when grandma wasn’t looking, and all of our countless memories. I will remind you how special you are, how much you’ve impacted my life.

So if there is one thing you can remember, please let it be this: I love you so much, grandpa. I wish I spent more time telling you that in the past, but all I can do is go forward from here.

There comes a time in life when you have to let go. You’ve always been the one to lend a hand, to explain, to fix, to care. It’s my turn now. Let me, and the rest of our family, step in and be there for you, the way you’ve been there for us our entire lives.

They say what goes around comes around. You have nothing but good coming to you now.

Love always,

Your “Favorite” (and only!) Grandaughter