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Erin Konrad:
‘Half-pint’ remembers grandpa

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‘Half-pint’ remembers grandpa
Posted Oct. 31, 2008

My most treasured possession is an old, ratty t-shirt. It is faded white and has a tiny hole on the shoulder.

It belonged to my grandpa who passed away from cancer when I was 13.

I used to borrow his white shirts when I spent the night at my grandparent’s house.

When I was little, the shirts would reach all the way down to the floor—now it fits me better.

When he died, I could have asked for anything he owned, maybe the watch he always wore or some of his fishing gear. But the only thing I wanted was that t-shirt, to remind me of the good times before he got so sick.

I’ve been reminded of him a lot lately. On Nov. 10, he will have been gone for nine years – an almost incomprehensible amount of time without him in my life. Every year, I think about the events I wish he could attend.

Holidays are the hardest. I used to go every year to pick out a Christmas tree with him. We would find the best one; he would cut it down and tie it to the roof of his truck. Then we would go for breakfast at McDonalds, because he thought their cup of coffee was the best (and the cheapest).

Another event is coming up in my life that I wish he were here for: I’m graduating from the University of La Verne in the spring. I think he would have been really proud of me, and I wish he could hear them say my name when I get my diploma.

My grandpa was one of the neatest men I have ever known, and he was definitely someone who has influenced the person that I have become.

He was smart, funny and had the warmest personality. But the aspect I loved the most was his ability to make me feel special.

Growing up, I always felt lost in the shuffle of my other cousins (I was in the middle of all their ages), and I felt like the ugly duckling to my older sister, the popular cheerleader.

My grandpa called me half-pint; a nickname that I felt helped distinguish me in the family. I felt I must have been important enough to warrant a special nickname.

My grandpa was diagnosed with colon cancer when I was in second grade. He beat it, and spent years in remission, spending his time fishing and camping with his grandchildren.

The summer after seventh grade, the doctors told him the cancer was back, and he had around three months to live.

I went to every chemotherapy and radiation appointment, and I made him shakes when he was too sick to eat anything else. I made dinners for my family when everyone would gather at my grandparent’s house. I called the hospice to have nurses sent out when it was obvious he was too far gone for any other treatment.

It was devastating to see my grandpa literally waste away—he went from being a strong, hearty man to an emaciated, whisper of a person.

I was heartbroken, but I knew he needed me, and there was nowhere else I would have rather been at the time.

He was a fighter throughout.

The three-month diagnosis ran out in September, but he carried on the struggle until November, when he passed away while I spent the several hours a day away from him at school.

I sang “Amazing Grace” at his service, and it was one of the only times in my life that I wasn’t nervous singing in front of people—there was just a sense of calm.

No one calls me half-pint anymore. I miss his laugh, but most of all, I just miss him.

Erin Konrad, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at erin.konrad@laverne.edu.