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Grandpa - A True Story

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My grandpa died two days ago. While I’m sad to see him go we both knew that it was his time. He was 95 years old and the last couple of months had been hell for him. He had gotten sick earlier in the year and was fighting off the illness as long as he could, but eventually it got the better of him. I was there when he died and I can tell you that he died with a smile on his face and full of nothing but acceptance.

He had looked after me for basically my entire life. I never knew my mom. She split the same week I was born, and my dad was always in jail so the only person that looked after me were my grandparents. They were honestly the sweetest people that I have ever had the pleasure of calling family, my grandpa especially. He bought a meal for a homeless man one time and then managed to get him a job working at the restaurant they were eating at. For years after that my grandpa would mail the man letters every week to see how he was doing. It was the kind of person he was.

My grandma died when I was sixteen. At the funeral I saw my grandpa crying. It was the only time in my life that I had ever witnessed it. He later told me that he was crying tears of joy because he knew that grandma was in a better place. He would visit her grave every day and read the morning newspaper to her just like he did when she was alive. He was the man that I hoped to be one day.

There was one, very unique characteristic about my grandpa that I always found quiet charming. It was his love for popcorn. There was not a day that went by where my grandpa didn’t have at least a bowl of popcorn. He loved the stuff so much that he bought one of those popcorn makers that you see in the movie theaters and had it running around the clock. That was one of my fondest memories of my grandpa and every time I smelt popcorn, even after I moved out, I would always look around to see if he was nearby eating his favorite snack.

I cried at his funeral, and even though I told myself that they were tears of joy, I knew that in reality I just missed him, and was sad to see him go.

I have a family of my own now though, so I am not alone. I have my beautiful wife and my two beautiful daughters to keep me company. Raising them I was always worried that I would somehow turn into my father, but then I would just say to myself, “what would grandpa do,” and so far it has never lead me astray.

After the funeral, life carried on like normal and everyone went back to their regular routine after a brief, but respectful, period of mourning. One night, while my wife and daughters were asleep, I was sitting on the couch watching TV when a commercial for a portable popcorn maker came on.

“Grandpa would love that,” I thought to myself. Only to have reality catch up to what I just said. I could feel myself starting to cry again, but I fought back the tears knowing that it wasn’t what my grandpa would have wanted. I was going to stay strong for him and my family. I was going to be the grandpa of their lives.

My eyes drifted open slowly as the noise from the TV drifted back into existence. My eyes adjusted to the small amount of light that was emanating from the screen and I realized that I must have fallen asleep on the couch while I was watching TV. I sat up and let out a big yawn as I rubbed my eyes. A took a deep breath in and that’s when I noticed that an all too familiar aroma was filling my nose.

I smelled popcorn.

It was really pungent, like someone had just got done making a giant batch of it. I looked over at the clock and then got up from the couch to see who was making popcorn at two o’clock in the morning. I navigated through the darkness into the kitchen but saw that the lights were off and that the microwave was not on. I opened it up just to make sure, but it was completely empty. The odor of popcorn was growing increasingly stronger, so I continued looking throughout the kitchen but no popcorn was there. I went upstairs to see if my wife or one of my daughters had made popcorn and then took it back to bed with them, but all three were fast asleep in their beds.

I went back down stairs as another wave of popcorn hit me like a ton of bricks and actually caused me to cover my nose. Where the hell was it coming from? I went back into the kitchen and checked the microwave again like popcorn was just going to magically appear there for some reason. I turned around and noticed that a soft, orange glow was shining through the slit at the bottom of the basement door. I went over to the door and the popcorn grew stronger, to the point of almost being unbearable.

A wall of heat rushed over me as I opened the door and I looked down to see that most of the basement was engulfed in a thick layer of smoke and fire. I stood there hypnotized for a second as the smell of popcorn disappeared and the overwhelming stench of burning wood filled my nose. Smoke was funneling out of the basement door at this point and the fire was working its way up the steps.

I slammed the door shut and ran upstairs screaming “fire” at the top of my lungs. My wife was already in the hall way by the time I made it to my daughters’ room, and I told her that the basement was on fire and that we needed to leave right now before the floor collapsed in on itself. She didn’t skip a beat and followed me downstairs as smoke continued to fill the house. We ran outside into the front yard where I pulled out my phone and called the fire department. They were there in less than three minutes, but by the time they arrived most of the first floor was up in flames. They fought the fire as best as they could, but by the time it was completely extinguished most of the house had been destroyed.

I pulled my family in close and started to cry. Not from sadness though. This time, I was certain, that these were tears of joy. Joy that my family and I had made it out all right. Houses can be rebuilt, but the thought of losing my wife or one of my daughters is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Standing there in the cold, a familiar aroma started to linger in through the night air and the smell of wet grass and burnt wood. It was a comfortable smell that remind me of the man that I looked up to for most of my life. Standing there with my family, I gave grandpa one last “thank you.”


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