My Grandpa: The Inspiration in My Life

The American Cancer Society states, “About 3 million Americans served in the armed forces in Vietnam and nearby areas during the 1960s and early 1970s, the time of the Vietnam War. During that time, the military used large amounts of mixtures known as defoliants, which are chemicals that cause the leaves to fall off plants. One of these defoliants was Agent Orange, and some troops were exposed to it. Many years later, questions remain about the lasting health effects of those exposures, including increases in cancer risk.

” For this reason my grandpa was diagnosed with larynx cancer and passed away a few years later after a car accident put the cancer out of remission. I won’t ever forget him, he’s still the brightest star in the sky to me.

My grandpa, and my hero. He fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and was wounded in the Korean War. My grandpa was the man that possibly everybody wanted to be.

He became a sergeant major during the wars. During the Vietnam War there was a chemical called “Agent orange” that was made to kill the plants. Many of the soldiers could possibly had health problems in the future. After the wars he was asked to work for President Johnson and President Nixon. He left the White House before the Watergate Scandal but he was part of the communication service for both of the presidents during the time he was there.

Since he traveled with both of them and the vice presidents he was in many different places as in Paris, France, Puerto Rico, Germany and many cities state side.

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Grandpa always remembered to bring something back for grandma and his three girls. One of the memorable ones were the cards from the Apollo space shots for the girls another were the China swans for grandma. Grandpa had a stroke leaving him in a wheelchair, paralyzed on one side with only one good arm. He could walk with a cane. Still grandma and he traveled to California three times by car, went on a cruise but then the cancer came back and they had to take his larynx out so he couldn’t speak. My grandpa was able to fight the cancer into remission. This could have been the end of the cancer.

They knew that grandma’s seatbelt had a problem that’s why with his good hand he always checked to make sure that it clicked but this time they had just stopped for coffee and he hadn’t checked it. My grandma and grandpa were in the purple van driving to the hospital when suddenly CRASH! A young student hit them. My grandma flew into the air and what they didn’t know was that my grandpa had broken his neck. His bones were very weak due to the chemo treatment. That was the end of the cancer being in remission and why later he had to wear a halo.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t remember him walking at all. Maybe because it was long ago but my grandma said that I was just too young to remember him walking. The effect of that didn’t make him any less of a person. He still communicated with me as any normal grandpa would. The best part of being right next door to my grandparents was I got to see them every day whenever I wanted to. On the side of the house at my grandparents there was a long ramp for my grandpa to get in and out of the house using his wheelchair. My grandma always helped my grandpa get into the wheelchair. He tried so hard to get in the chair so I could take him on a walk. He didn’t want to let me down so he tried with all of his strength to make me happy. I got to push him up and down the wooden ramp with the help from grandpa’s good arm and grandma I was a lucky child because I lived right next door to my grandparents not that many kids got to. I can remember his room as if it were yesterday. Orange felt curtains, maple leaf sheets, a twin sized bed, and a big bay window with Christmas lights around the window that we enjoyed every day during the winter. Grandma’s sewing machine stand was turned into medical supply drawers. Before the accident my grandpa was a strong and slender man. He was a tall fellow. But after the cancer and accident he had his larynx removed. This is how I remember my grandpa. He couldn’t speak, he had a hole in his throat with a tube going to his stomach so he could be fed. He had a black brace that would hold his head in place. The head and neck support he had was a halo. I remember that it was so hard for him to move.

Communication with my grandpa was very different. He could move his face and eyebrows and we were able to understand what he wanted or what he was trying to say. His expressions were very definite. Every day that I was over there he would make facial expressions to me. I was able to understand him and he wanted me to reach in one of the drawers and I pulled out a mini York Peppermint Patty. All the kids in my family who would come visit, would receive one of the mints of heaven. It became a tradition with us. Since we lived right next door I was over there every single day and every single minute with my grandpa. Even if there was two feet of snow I ran over there bare foot just to see him. I never left his side. He would wrap his arm around me and we would watch T.V. and sit there all day. He meant the world to me. I love him. He was really happy to see my face whenever I came over.

March 4th 1999 was the end. Less than a month after my birthday. My grandpa had passed on to a new life. My cousin Rita walked in and found my grandpa and I witnessed it as well. I couldn’t believe this was it. Saturday, March 6th 1999 we had a funeral at American Lutheran in Huron, SD. He was then interred at the Black Hills National Cemetery. I remember looking around and seeing everyone crying and I had no idea what was going on. My grandpa is part of the reason I am who I am today. Even though I only knew him for a couple of years. I know that he would be so proud of me to see how well I’m doing. Tears fall when I talk about him. My grandpa is my inspiration, role model, and my hero. I can’t wait to see him in another life.

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My Grandpa: The Inspiration in My Life. (2022, Jun 10). Retrieved from

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