This is something I’ve really been meaning to write for a while, and now seemed a more fitting time than ever to write this, given all I can think about is school ending in a few months!
My junior year has been hectic to say the least; I’ve been fighting to graduate slightly earlier than my projected graduation date (one more year woo!) and it’s been tough juggling five classes, a new job, and my sanity. Luckily I was able to venture back up to Longwood for a brief trip over Christmas where I got to visit with some family members I hadn’t seen in way too long.
Like most gatherings with my wild and crazy (in a good way!) family, there were many conversations that were interesting to say the least. From football smack talk, to poking fun at each other over many mimosas and peach bellinis, there wasn’t a topic left untouched.
One conversation though, trumped the hysterical jokes and stories and that was my conversation with my Grandfather. For the past few years he has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a sickness where victims gradually start losing their memory. It’s been a painful process for us all, but I know there isn’t a stronger family out there.
Like any sickness there are both good and bad days, but the sparkle in my grandfather’s eyes and the passion behind his voice when he spoke made this day one I will absolutely never forget.
I walked over to the couch as I saw a spot next to him open up and I was immediately greeted with cheerful congratulations. He never forgets to let me know how proud he is, no matter what this disease puts him through. We began to talk about my writing and how I had saved him every single FGCU newspaper with my published articles for him to read. He asked more about how I was doing in school and I replied with the typical rant I give about how I just want to be done with school already and travel.
The conversation quickly started to evolve as he began to tell me a story. He spoke of when he was my age and how he thought he knew everything, then he started to leave the comfort of his hometown and his parents. It really put things into perspective for him. He realized how there’s an endless amount of beauty to see in the world and how exploring and traveling are essential to growing. He urged me to see new places, try new things, and meet new people. He told me that to this day, despite his age and his disease, that he still aims to learn something new every single day. His voice became lively, his eyes lit up and I could tell he knew he was really getting through to me as he paused and smiled, “There’s so much to see,” he said, “and even more to learn!”
And with the announcement that our food was ready, our conversation ended and we both snapped back into reality.
Herman Hill is easily the smartest man I know. Not just because he was a rocket scientist, LITERALLY, but also because he knows how to live. He shows strength through his suffering and continues to persevere. You won’t catch him without a newspaper or book in his hand and he always has an insightful story to tell. He and my grandmother are the glue that keeps my family together and I hope that one day, I leave a legacy as great as his.