Lessons From Grandpa #3

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Me with my grandfather when I was about 1 year old.

When I was in 6th grade my grandmother received an unexpected diagnosis of cancer. It was a rare form of cancer and she had roughly 6 months to live because after watching her daughter (my aunt) suffer through chemotherapy treatments at the age of 28, she didn’t want to go through it herself. She knew it would only extend her life by a few months and didn’t want to be sick. She was very bitter about having the cancer and my grandfather was very sad. It hit everyone like a ton of bricks.

At one point, my grandmother was in the hospital for awhile and I was heading back and forth to the hospital with my grandfather to see her. It was a very eerie feeling for me being in the hospital and seeing my grandmother like that. My grandfather decided to take me to a family restaurant right across the street because we hadn’t eaten. I remember ordering mozzarella sticks and we sat at this little table together. As I sat there eating my cheese sticks this song came on the radio by Christopher Cross titled “Sailing.”

Every time I hear this song, it takes me back to that very day with my grandfather, when he sat at that table in the restaurant in tears and told me,

“Be sure to appreciate everything you have, especially your loved ones while they’re here.”

Later on that week, my grandmother became worse. She wasn’t going to be here much longer and I still wasn’t with it. I was simply too young and this would be the first death I would mourn. The situation with my grandmother was causing him a great deal of pain and I remember one day hearing him very upset in our basement. He was crying loudly, yelling at himself and throwing things around. He was saying over and over how much he was angry with himself for not telling my grandmother that he loved her enough. He felt that he hadn’t appreciated her like he should have. It really made me cry and I didn’t know how to help him. Around a month after that, she was gone.

A few years passed and my grandfather was back to golfing and living his life the best he could. I started spending more time out of the house, predominately at the roller skating rink in the next county over. I loved skating and because the rink was in a different county, I was able to meet new people from different schools. My main issue with skating was the fact that I had big feet and always had to wear these ugly men’s skates that made my feet hurt, until I came to know a girl by the name of Anne. Anne was there to mainly socialize with everyone else and because she was from that county, many of the kids there were her schoolmates. f85a1ed11c87e9aa7ca220c5d0007a53--quad-skates-speed-skates.jpgShe had these amazing black speed skates with shocking magenta wheels that were low-cut and my size! I was near a size 12 shoe at that point and it was hard for me to find anything to fit. She told me that I could borrow them if I wanted to and I took her up on the offer. They felt so smooth rolling on the ground. Every weekend we were there together I would use her skates and we came to know each other. We became best friends.

Anne was like the friend of a lifetime. She always had the right things to say and made me feel so good about myself. She was as tall as me and we had a lot in common. When I started driving, we would go places together and shop. She was a year or so younger than me, so getting my license was a huge plus for us. We had some of the same friends and It was because of her that I found my first boyfriend. She would come over often and she always enjoyed my grandfather’s company. He always had something funny to say to her. We played pool at the local pool hall, drove around listening to music, and swam in our friend Jen’s pool in the summer. Life was good. We were young without a care in the world.

One of the first things I did after graduating high school was graduating from cosmetology school. I started working in a salon right away and Anne loved it. Now she could have her hair and nails done whenever she wanted. She always said that I could create the best shaped acrylic nails she’d ever seen and loved the way I styled hair. It would be me that put her hair in an updo for her junior prom.

Another year went by and I was busy living life. I took a job managing a car dealership because it was more money, but continued doing cosmetology on the side. I got involved in a bad relationship and had made a few stupid choices, but I was okay. I wasn’t seeing Anne very much because I was just too busy for much of anything, or at least I thought I was. We sort of began to grow apart a little bit, but would occasionally hang out.

Anne was about to take a vacation to Florida with her family and really wanted me toflorida-beach-Medium.jpg give her a pedicure, manicure, hair style and the whole works. I thought it would be fun for us to catch up. I spent about 4 or 5 days heading back and forth to Anne’s house that week. She was showing me the summer outfits she bought to take on her vacation. It was a lot of fun. I can still remember sitting in her room on her super soft bed. I always loved Anne’s room. As we sat together she told me that she had a boyfriend. I was shocked! We had some real catching up to do. She told me all about how they met and I became confused. She proceeded to tell me that he was older than her and in prison. I was alarmed, but I didn’t want to say anything negative to her at this point. I asked her why he was in jail and what he did wrong, but she said it didn’t matter and that he would be getting out soon. Little did I know, this would be the last time I would see Anne.

About a month went by and Anne was back from vacation. I’d heard a rumor from a mutual friend that she was hanging out with the wrong crowd in a bad neighborhood. Her boyfriend was out of jail now and she began spending late nights with him where he was living. I tried calling her often, but her mom would always answer and tell me that she wasn’t home. She would tell me about their troubles and arguments. More than once she said that she couldn’t keep Anne home and away from these dangerous people. Anne was now 18 and able to make her own choices and she was taking some tremendous risks. We finally talked a time or two and I tried to convince her to come back home and to stay away from this group of people. She wouldn’t listen to me and at one point I felt like I’d really upset her. She said she loved this guy who was just out of jail and she didn’t think there was anything wrong with the decisions she was making. Who was I to judge? I was mainly concerned for her safety. The only time I could speak with her was when she was at home because it wasn’t common for teens to be running around with cell phones yet. Everything was different back then.

bright-hot-sun_1463106832514_1305923_ver1.0_640_360.jpgI was sitting at work a few weeks later. It was a slow day and the sun was baking me through the tall glass windows of the car dealership. It was such a hot summer that year. The phone rang and I answered it. It was my friend Michelle calling to ask me if I’d heard the news. Of course it was a ‘roll your eyes’ moment because Michelle always had stories to tell and she was the ultimate story ‘spicer’ which everyone knew. She proceeded to tell me that Anne was dead. I didn’t believe her and actually got a little mad and told her I’d call her back. There was just no way. I called Anne’s house and her mom answered the phone. Not long after my first words were spoken, I heard a dead silence on the phone. I can still remember sitting there with the phone in my hand as her mom was crying and not speaking a word. I stood up and couldn’t breath. It felt like my lungs weren’t functioning. I dropped the phone and began pacing around, out of my mind. I don’t even remember what my initial thoughts were. I just remember being in a total state of panic and denial. I got back on the phone with her mom and we both just cried on the phone together. She apologized for not calling me and told me that she couldn’t bring herself to tell me what had happened yet. Finally she told me the story.

 

Anne hadn’t been home for about 3 days. She was staying with this guy who was supposedly her boyfriend. He had just been released from prison. Apparently some people wanted him dead and Anne was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They entered the house around 2 am and shot and killed him. At the time, it was thought that she was in the back of the house in a different room because she jumped out of a window and began to run. She ran for a distance, but they were already after her and they weren’t going to let her get away. They shot her 7 times in the back and she collapsed near a house doorway. It took her mom forever to tell me the story and I just sat there on the phone in complete shock while listening to the details. Running for her life, shot 7 times, my dear friend was dead. Because it was the middle of the night and there were barely any witnesses, I was told that finding her killers would be like locating a needle in a haystack. There just wasn’t enough evidence and the killers obviously knew what they were doing.

I was so sick about everything that happened and couldn’t sleep in my house for a few days. I guess the thought of being in my room made me think of her and it scared me in a weird way. I just wanted to be with someone, so I stayed the night with my neighbor-friend Lisa. She understood how I was feeling and knew Anne from seeing her from time to time at my house.

1262935-bigthumbnail.jpgThe funeral was coming up and I was trying to figure out how I was going to deal with it. I hadn’t been to a funeral since my grandmother passed and really didn’t like them. I was talking to Anne’s younger sister on the phone and she told me there would be an open casket at the wake. I didn’t understand how, but because she was shot in the back, I guess they were able to present her in an open casket without revealing the damage to her body. Regardless, this wouldn’t have been my choice. I wanted to remember Anne how she was the week we spent together before she went to Florida, the Anne I spent time skating with, the Anne I sat and listened to music with for hours on end. Then, her sister told me that they wanted to play some of her favorite music at the wake and she wanted me to give her some of our favorite tapes. I told her I would give her our favorite cassette tape which had one very important song on it. Earlier in the year Notorious B.I.G. was killed and Puff Daddy came out with this song called, “I’ll be Missing You” in remembrance of Notorious B.I.G. This song was a favorite for me because it contained parts of the background from The Police’s 1983 hit song “Every Breath You Take.” I always loved that song and thought what Puff Daddy did with it was pretty unique. Of course I never knew that our favorite song that spring would be playing at her funeral that summer.

I left work early the day of the funeral and brought the cassette tape with. When I got there I slowly made my way up to the casket. It was horrible. It didn’t even look like her and her face had all of these dark lines, almost like her makeup was smeared. I stayed with her for a few minutes, greeted everyone, gave her sister the tape and left. I just couldn’t bring myself to stay there as there was no way I could keep myself composed. As I was leaving the parking lot that day, I thought about what my grandfather said when I was a kid, to appreciate the people you have now when they’re here. I am grateful that I had Anne in my life for the time that I did, but it took me a long time to get over the fact that we would depart like this. I wonder if I could’ve done things differently and not lectured her about what she was doing. Would it have made a difference? I do wish I would’ve told her on the phone how much she meant to me and that I cared about her, but I have to believe she knew in her heart that I did. Even though we had grown apart, we had a special friendship.

When I think about Anne and my grandparents I ask myself,

“Was I as good to them as they were to me?”

 

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After all of these life experiences that remind me to appreciate what I have now, I still sometimes think it’s easy to take things for granted in life, especially relationships. After being married for a considerable amount of time, I notice there are times when I just expect that everything will be wonderful the way it is-my husband will come home from work, we’ll watch Netflix or work outside, the kids will continue to thrive and grow, but none of this is guaranteed and we are definitely not in control.

It will be 20 years in a little over a month since Anne was killed and it still feels like yesterday. I will continue to try my hardest to appreciate everything and all the people in my life. It’s important to show it. I hope that others will do the same because we never know how much time we have together. Thanks Grandpa. ❤

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Thanks for reading…

48 thoughts on “Lessons From Grandpa #3

  1. starjustin

    Beautiful post Mischenko! Remember how Grandpa told us to always say “I love you” to each other after Grandma passed away. He was so right. I’m looking forward to the next ‘Lesson from Grandpa’ post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mischenko, such a touching post. I’m so sorry for the losses in your life, sad reminders to appreciate those in our life and to show our appreciation to them.

    On a side note, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. No obligation to participate of course, but it’s right here if you’d like to check it out! Liebster Award
    Jo-Ann

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for commenting, Jo-ann. 🙂

      Another liebster! Oh my gosh, thank you so much. You’re the sweetest. I’ll most definitely participate and I’m heading to check yours out now. Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Noriko

    Mischenko, thank you so much for sharing this post. It’s so tragic, painful, but amazingly beautiful, it made me welled up, made my heart constricted. I cannot imagine how much pain and grief you have gone through… but I can tell it’s those things that made you who you are right now, an amazingly compassionate, wonderful, beautiful person. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so glad to have met you.
    Love, Noriko

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m touched that you read it and thanks so much for your kind comments. It was heartbreaking for me, but time helps with healing. Thank you, Noriko. You’re a great friend and I feel the same about the fact that we connected. I appreciate you!💗💗💗

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Claire, thank you for reading it. It’s sad and I contemplated posting it, but I feel like it was a good lesson for me and maybe it might help others. I’m still reminding myself. 😉 💗 Thanks again.

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  4. Nel

    Man this was a rough read but great post and definitely true. Thank you for sharing such a powerful tale. This is the reason I tell my husband I love him 500 times a day cause you just never know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Nel. We never know and sometimes I feel like I get too comfortable and miss the importance of showing appreciation to others while really only recognizing it. Thank you for sharing and for being such a great person and a great friend. 💗❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner

    *virtual hug* Thank you for sharing your story. Many people will benefit from reading this. We should all remind ourselves daily to treasure the moments we have with those who hold a special place in our hearts. To appreciate the little things and the big things. Beautiful story. Great advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. bocks13

    All we have is each other in this world. Not to dismiss the effect nature plays in our lives or books or robots. Only another human soul is truly sentient.

    An animal may feel love and never know why. A tree may snap back and touch us, but it will never caress us. The Sun or a green traffic light may shine their smiles and leave us unmoved because we know they’re automatic. A cow may call and come running. She wants us to milk her or put hay in the byre.

    Now, a person, who’s smile and speech stir us inside, they’re the one who can love us back. They’re the ones who can suppress feelings of hate when we’ve done something immoral. From the depths of their wells, they can lift cool water and sate our thirst for knowledge and forgiveness.

    Death is cruel that teaches us giving thanks may be too late.

    Thank you Jenn for tragic yet wonderful remembrances in your life. I think I feel through your words how painful it can be recalling how you’ve lost people from your life. We should all be more grateful for the experiences and love others bestow. Like you say, it’s easy to take relationships for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing all of that. Everything that you wrote is all so true. There’s certainly no way to turn back time. I appreciate you reading my post and thank you for sharing with me. 💗♡😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You words make my heart want to give your heart a hug. I’m sorry for your sadness. We do the best we can with the information we have in the moment. If we knew what could or would happen, maybe we could change it. But we don’t and we can’t. It sounds like you loved all of them dearly and that life just happened. You honor them now and that is important and beautiful. Again I’m just so sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, MoJo. It’s so true, we can’t foresee the future. I guess the only thing we can do is live and love the best we can. Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts with me. 🙂 ❤

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  8. Thank you for sharing this. It was so hard to read, as I’m sure it was so hard to write, because it was tragic but it was beautiful too. You are a beautiful soul, and I’m so glad to have met you. Losing a loved you, especially a friend for a tragic, cruel reason is a devastation that we never get over. I know that all too well since I also lost a best friend in devastating circumstances although very dissimilar to yours. 😦 But there is healing that arises in the pain and it makes us more compassionate and empathetic people, at least I hope that it does. That occasion did teach me to treasure each and every moment with my loved ones since you never know when your last day on earth is, and I just want to tell you again how much I appreciate you! You are one amazing woman to know! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Stephanie, thank you. I’m so very sorry that you lost a loved one too. I know it happens too often and as mentioned here, it’s so final when it does. I couldn’t agree more about healing through pain and I do believe it makes us treasure our loved ones more. I feel I need to remind myself sometimes.

      It will be 20 years this Sept. I meant to mention that. I’m not a person that normally calculates time like that, but 20 years when it feels like it was yesterday. It’s crazy.

      Thanks for reading, sharing, and for your kind comments. I’m feel so lucky to have met you and I appreciate you too! 😊❤💗💕

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for everything you said. Loss does make you treasure your loved ones all the more. Twenty years seems so long, but I can see how it does seem like yesterday. It was 14 years ago that my friend died, but it also seems like yesterday especially when I look at pictures of her holding one of my babies when they were born or look at her own daughters now turning into teenagers. Or celebrate my son’s birthday every year since they shared a birthday, which was alway something we laughed about. I can’t help but think on that day she is celebrating with us still from Heaven.

        Losses never fade, especially the more tragic they are like both of our friends. I do think they help shape us and even ready us for more loss.

        You’re welcome for sharing and even more for reading! ((Hugs)) ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Aww, that’s really hard I bet. I’m so sorry. The fact that she held your babies is so special. Having the memories is like a blessing. They never leave our hearts. 💗 Thanks again for sharing with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is. But beloved memories really do make a difference. My oldest son was 5 when she died and vaguely remembers her. My middle son who shares her b-day was 3 and of course doesn’t. My daughter asks about her when she sees her picture since she’s 12 and 10 yrs younger than her brothers, and I find it’s actually fun to share the memories even if I cry at times 💞 I love sharing with you! It’s like I can’t wait to talk to you, lol. ❤❤❤

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    3. Aww, it’s so sad. I was too young to remember my aunt as I was just a baby, but I’m told that I’m just like her. Amazing how that works.

      You’re right, it’s good to share the memories. It’s what we have. With every one of my children, I thought about how I wish I could share them with them, especially my grandfather. He wanted a granddaughter so bad, but I pray that he sees them. 😉

      Stephanie, thank you. I can’t tell you how glad I am we connected! 💗 Enjoy your weekend!

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  10. Mischenko

    Thank you for sharing such personal and touching post. I am so sorry for your loss and pain. Although the outcome was devastating, your words were and are a beautifully written memorial to both your grandparents and friend Anne. I wish you peace and comfort especially over these next few months.

    **Hugs** – Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jennifer C

    Mischenko, this was just beautiful. So much of what you wrote was relatable to me- as you know, we are similar in age, and the time references really stuck with me, especially when thinking of friendships. I am so sorry about your beautiful friend, Ann. I understand you second guessing yourself about the lecturing, but if you hadn’t said anything, I think you would have regretted that even more. You were only being a friend, and I am sure she knew that. Hugs to you. So grateful to know you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing that with me. It makes me feel so much more positive about it. I try to remind myself of the fact that she was doing something she wanted to do. Of course she didn’t expect the outcome, she was just in the wrong place at the worst time, but for the longest time it haunted me what her last thoughts were. It’s such a horrible feeling. Time has healed, but I’ll never forget her. I’ve never had such a wonderful friend since, but one things for sure, I’ve been flooded with such positive and caring thoughts from this blog community and it’s heartwarming. I’m lucky to have you, Jennifer! I want you to know that I appreciate you and every single word you write to me here and even on Goodreads. It means SO MUCH. 💗💗💗

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  12. Thank you so much for opening up your heart and sharing this with us. You touch so many of us so personally with your blogs. You’re such a beautiful, caring person. I just lost my beautiful sister January 30th. I’m still having such a hard time with life without her beautiful smile. I ask myself everyday whether she knew how much I loved her. I hope I told her enough. When her brain was slowly slipping away in the hospital and she wasn’t really responding, I said I love you Margie and her eyes looked to my face and with very slow effort she said I love you too Donna. Those were our last words, and I’m so glad I have them. I will always cherish them. But I’m still having a hard time seeing life without her. I will always be sure that those I love know I love them. And if there’s a disagreement, I will be sure that before the sun sets I will let them know I’m sorry and I love them.
    Thank you SO much for sharing your story with us. It was devastating, and I’m sure still brings up lots of emotions for you. But turning it into something that helps others is a beautiful thing. 💝💝💝

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, your comment brought me to tears. I’m so very sorry that you lost your sister. I can’t even begin to imagine what that was like. It happened to my mom when I was a baby. The song at the time that became their song was by Chicago titled, “If You Leave Me Now.” It became her song with my aunt as she was dying of cancer. When I hear it it just about kills me because I get a feeling of how sick my mom was over losing my aunt.

      I’m so sorry this happened, but good that you have these words with your sister to hold on to. I’m teary writing this message and can’t think of what to say. I’m just so sorry. Thank you for sharing and for your kind comments. ❤❤❤

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  14. What a sad but wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your heart. Emotional and so very touching. Those two songs have a special place in my heart as well. Music really bring out such strong feelings and memories. I had a friend who was in a fire and was in intensive care for a week before she passed away. I remember playing Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work over and over and to this day that song always makes me think of her.
    This post is a lovely tribute to your friend and grandpa. I’m sure your words will touch many.
    Big hugs to you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Such a sad tale but well told. My sincere condolences to you and Anne’s family. I will assume this is but a taste of the rest of the book you are writing. This memoir is such a nice testament to your grandparents and your late friend. It is also a life lesson to many. What a world it would be if we all treated each encounter with our loved ones as if it were our last. Never stop writing Mischenko! ~ Anthony

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Anthony. It’s so true and I have to remind myself often to think of it that way. We never know how much time we have together. Thank you so much for sharing your comment here today. 😉 I hope everything is well with you and your family! 💗

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