It is Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 1:00 am. I am watching a movie in the basement with Matt. My sister is fast asleep in her bed. My mom is looking over her mother, sleeping by her side. My dad is watching another show on The History Channel. The phone rings. My heart stops. Who could be calling at this time of night? What is wrong? Are Grandpap and Meemaw okay? Should I get the phone? Do I want to know? Moments later my father answers the phone. I wonder who called. I need to find out. I hesitantly go up the creaking staircase trying to reassure myself that my worst nightmare is not coming true. I must be overreacting. Obviously everyone is fine. There is nothing to worry about. As I reach the top of the steps, I take a deep breath and hope for the best. I go through the door. My eyes are frantically searching for my dad. I find him in his room. I ask him, “What happened? Who called?” A tear is streaming down his face as he slowly states, “Grandpap died.” While in a sweet, strong embrace, my father and I begin to weep tears of sorrow. The hole in my heart at the time inflicts sharp pains of grief and emptiness that will never be filled.
I knew this day would come eventually but there can never be enough tears shed or heartache endured to properly prepare yourself for the loss of a loved one. I had been watching my Grandfather, Elmer Harland Upole, die for a very long time. He became sick about four years ago while residing at his home in Garrett County, Maryland. My Grandmother, Nellie Upole, single-handedly took care of Elmer for all of the time that they remained at their home. His sickness started as simply aging and the many effects that accompany it. Elmer was then diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease along with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Both of these diseases are debilitating, life-altering, and in most cases lead to death. Death was now something new to consider as a part of everyday life.
When first coping with the...
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