This is an old story from a blog I started a long time ago. As I was going to delete the old blog, I wanted to share this story on here as it is that important to me. Thank you for reading.
**Time estimates may not be exact, due to it has been a long time since this story has occurred. I am documenting it to the best of my memory. However, the timeline is not the important part, but what I learned from the experience.**
My Junior year of high school, my father’s father (my grandpa) became very ill. He’d been battling with all sorts of sickness for a few years, but it got really bad and he ended up being admitted to the hospital. My dad got a call from his siblings down in Southern California saying that grandpa wasn’t going to make it, and that dad needed to go down and visit.
My mom, dad, and my little brother all packed up and got ready to leave. Due to my being in a special program for college, I was unable to postpone finals and tag along with them. It made me sad, but I know grandpa would have wanted me to stay in school and pass all my tests.
This story, however, is not about my grandpa. This story, in fact, is about my father, and how he inspires me.
About a year after my grandpa passed away, my family and I were out shopping. Now, I have to explain something here. When my family ALL goes shopping together, it gets interesting. My father and I prefer to get in and out as quickly as possible. My mom and brother, however, like to peruse every aisle in the store to make sure they’ve gotten absolutely EVERYTHING they can think of. (One time, dad and I acted like the daleks from Doctor Who and embarrassed my mom immensely. But that’s a story for another time…)
Whilst at the grocery story, my dad looked over at me and stated that he needed to look for a vase. Hm… stay with mom and look at the same stuff they always have in the grocery aisles, or go and help dad with a project? Not a difficult choice.
We scanned the vases in the floral department for quite some time. My father isn’t one to really worry too much about “pretty” when it comes to the garden, but rather likes to focus on usefulness. Needless to say, looking at all the vases and their colors and shapes took me by surprise. I pointed out ones that I thought were nice, one after the other, but dad seemed to have a specific look in mind. We didn’t find the vase at the first store, but dad did grab a bag of small green marbles. You know, like the ones they put in fish tanks. ….Hmmmmm.
Mom made a stop at Goodwill, seeing as we were all out as a family. Yet again, we were there for a while. I got bored and walked around looking at all the trinkets and knick knacks until my mom told us it was time to head out. After waiting a while, I saw my dad come out from the back corner of the store, with a tall, skinny, cylindrical vase in hand, complete with a little lid. It reminded me of those jars that the old candy shops used to display all the colorful candies on the shelves. I was so puzzled, but I didn’t want to pester him. I figured that if I needed to know, he would tell me.
Dad got home from the store and disappeared to his room with his little bag of marbles and his vase. After being gone for a while, he came out with hardly any of the marbles poured into the bottom of the vase. He put it on the shelf directly across from the kitchen, stared at it, and walked away.
The following months, I would see my dad doing dishes and looking at his vase. He would stare at it, seemingly pensive about it, and then he would continue doing chores. Finally, I had to ask him.
“Dad,” I asked, “I have to know. I figured you would tell me if I had to know, but I just have to ask. What’s with the vase? And why are there only a few marbles in the bottom…?”
He looked at me softly, and I finally received my answer.
“You know what? I was wondering if someone would ever ask me about it.”
He looked over at the jar on the shelf, and told me something I will never forget.
“Each one of those marbles represents a year. My dad just died. Inside that jar, each marble is one year that he was older than I am now. Thing is…” He paused, and returned his look back to me. “I thought there would be more marbles in there. Look how little of the jar that fills up. There’s hardly any in there. It reminds me that life is short and it’s over way too quickly.”
My heart felt full of mixed emotions. My dad isn’t the “touchy feely” type with just anyone. So when he shared something so personal, I felt very special.
My dad is my superhero. He’s imperfect, he makes mistakes, and he inspires me to do better and be better.