Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TOURIST TRAP (08/20/15)
- TITLE: All That Glitters
By Cindy Duncan
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My Grandpa Jenkins would argue with a brick wall. It was never a serious argument, just a friendly, lively debate to get us talking to him so he could teach us things. He would always open with a shocking statement that we couldn’t ignore; something that he knew would draw us into a verbal altercation. He continued the debates after his cancer diagnosis, so I expected more of the same when I visited him that day.
As I walked into the bedroom of his house, I knew it could be my last visit with him. The cancer he had battled for the last two years was getting the best of him, and the doctors had sent him home for his final days.
“I’m going home soon,” was his opening statement to me.
“You’re already home, Grandpa,” I said, jumping right into debate mode.
“No, Richard, I’m just a stranger and a pilgrim here; this is not my home. Sure, I’ve seen some beautiful places, done some wonderful things, and had a lot of fun here, but I’ve just been passing through. It’s time to go home.” He shifted in his bed, as the pain moved across his face.
I understood where he was going with this conversation, but his serious tone was making me nervous, so I smiled at him and said, “So, you’ve been a tourist here all these years?”
He returned my smile, and took the bait. “That’s a pretty accurate assessment, actually. And like every tourist, I’ve fallen into some traps, and done some things that cost me more than I expected to pay.”
“You and I both know, Grandpa, that ain’t nobody gonna talk you into doing anything you don’t wanna do. I’m not calling you stubborn or anything, but you’re not exactly a pushover either.”
“That’s true, and I’m sure your Grandma would agree with that statement,” he said with a chuckle. “But that’s why I called them traps. Things are not always what they appear to be. The drinking seemed like so much fun, until I became an alcoholic. Other women looked so enticing to me, until I almost destroyed my marriage with infidelity. And watching sports all weekend seemed like a good idea, until I turned around and my children were all grown up, and I hadn’t even noticed it happening.” His breathing was strained with the combination of cancer and the heaviness of his words. “Just don’t make the same mistakes I did. Don’t fall into his traps.”
Now I was at a loss for words. I knew he was being sincere, for I knew about his past, and I had witnessed the unspoken regret. He was a wonderful grandfather, but I sometimes got the impression he was trying to make up for the mistakes he had made with his own children. “I’ll stay away from the traps, Grandpa,” I said, as I was compiling a mental list of ones that I was already dangerously close to falling into.
“It’s not easy, because they’re everywhere. Remember when we took you to Disney World, and when an attraction or ride was over, we had to walk through the gift shop to get back to the park? Tempting, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, it was, but I had you to guide me past all those over priced souvenirs,” I laughed. “I would’ve wasted all my spending money in there if it hadn’t been for you.”
“Life has a way of throwing you into tempting situations too, Richard, but let God guide you through the temptation.” He paused, exhausted, but not finished. “Because the things you could lose are worth more than money.”
“I know, Grandpa,” I said, as I thought about my own wife and two young sons. “You should probably rest now; you seem really tired.”
He looked at me, then back at the corner of the ceiling, where he had been staring during most of our conversation. He nodded, as tears and wonder filled his eyes.
Then he spoke the last words I would ever hear him speak in this life.
“Come see me again. Just don’t get in any hurry, okay? Love you, buddy.”
My grandfather went home later that day, but his words stayed with me. Thirty years have passed since our last visit, but I remember it often, especially when I feel Satan luring me into one of his many traps.
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