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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)

TITLE: The Best Father a Grandchild Could Have
By April Bailey


Annalise is fertile. Considering her drinking and penchant for nickel bags, itís kind of surprising sheís able to show up at my grandfatherís house every year or so to drop off another bastard child. As the first in a series of my motherís illegitimate children, I often prayed God might pollute her womb, ending all possibility of further creation, until I saw the heartbreak in my grandfatherís face over his lost daughter eased by the bundles of love she left on the doorstep. Six of us so far.

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 wifeómy grandmother, before she diedóhe failed to keep Annalise from the destructive pull of the streets. Sadness. I see it in his face sometimes, when he touches his daughterís 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 remainsófor 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 didnít have to adopt us. No one would have faulted the aging widower for turning any or all of his daughterís kids over to the state. But Grampa believes in family. ďYou donít leave family out on the street,Ē 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. Iíve heard him plead with my mother to stay, offering to scrape together funds to pay for rehab, but sheís on her way quickly, childless once more and grasping a fistful of Grampaís pocket money.

Itís 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. ďWe all have our demons,Ē heíll say. ďHers just have a little better footing.Ē

I donít blame him for my motherís 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 canít 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. Itís not easy for him but Iím 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 Iím sure it makes headlines in heaven. My grampa, my dad. He is and will forever be, my hero.

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This article has been read 830 times
Member Comments
Member Date
william price12/14/06
A stirring tribute to Grandpa. A hero for sure. God bless.
Lynda Schultz 12/14/06
A sad story, but a beautiful tribute. Good job.
Helen Paynter12/15/06
A beautiful tribute indeed. I hope Annalise found her redemption.
Pat Guy 12/15/06
Wow ... what a hero. What a heart. Excellent job.
Beth Muehlhausen12/17/06
Nicely told story - full of layers of emotion.

Liked the imagery in this line: "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."

And this one says it all: "Itís hard to forgive a mother who discards her children like gum wrappers."
Donna Haug12/21/06
What a great first line! Talk about an attention getter! LOL Touching story. Good work.
I love how you make the reader feel compassion for this prostitute mother. That's how Jesus would feel. Extremely well written!