Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: The Best Father a Grandchild Could Have
By April Bailey
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Annalise is our mother in biology only. No phone calls, gifts or holiday cards come to bring hope or confusion to any of us about that. Grampa is our sole parent, our father, and raises his growing brood of grandchildren like a blessing instead of the burden it seems we might be.
My mother is his only natural child, and even with a wife—my grandmother, before she died—he failed to keep Annalise from the destructive pull of the streets. Sadness. I see it in his face sometimes, when he touches his daughter’s high school photo. He still remembers the dreams she had then, the dreams they had for her as parents, even if she has long since painted over the memories with alcohol and ashes. Despite giving her all he knew how throughout her childhood, he blames himself. But hope remains—for her, yes, but mostly with his new children. I see the sadness melt away when he looks at us. We, my brothers and sisters, are his second chance.
He didn’t have to adopt us. No one would have faulted the aging widower for turning any or all of his daughter’s kids over to the state. But Grampa believes in family. “You don’t leave family out on the street,” he often says. His words are laced with irony, though, since Annalise chose the street over the bonds of blood.
But even with her, his door is never closed. I’ve heard him plead with my mother to stay, offering to scrape together funds to pay for rehab, but she’s on her way quickly, childless once more and grasping a fistful of Grampa’s pocket money.
It’s hard to forgive a mother who discards her children like gum wrappers. But Grampa helps me understand her struggle when I entertain thoughts of abandonment. “We all have our demons,” he’ll say. “Hers just have a little better footing.”
I don’t blame him for my mother’s wayward lifestyle, and just knowing that something of him lives in her makes me hold out hope for her redemption. The blood of a great and selfless man flows through her veins, and I can’t help loving that about her even if she has no regard for herself.
Grampa stepped in when we needed him, raising six sometimes wild grandkids and knowing that any day the doorbell could ring, adding to our number. It’s not easy for him but I’m thankful that his commitment to his daughter extended to her children when she was unwilling to take responsibility. His sacrifice may never make the news or win him awards, but I’m sure it makes headlines in heaven. My grampa, my dad. He is and will forever be, my hero.
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