Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Greatest Man I Ever Knew

My earliest childhood memories revolve around my grandfather, George Wiencek. I only had six years with him, but they are six of the best years of my life. My memories of him are very vivid, which surprises many people because I was so young.

I remember going out into the fields with grandpa and picking Indian corn. I remember the buckets of multi colored Indian corn seed kernels. I remember “helping” in the garden. I remember picking the strawberries he had planted just for me, and eating them with milk and sugar. Sometimes we would eat raspberries instead.

I remember sitting on a bale of hay and watching him work in the garden or lawn. I remember him holding buttercups under my chin, and proclaiming I liked butter. Every spring there were daffodils, tulips, and narcissus. He taught me how to draw all of these. We cut roses from the rose bushes for grandma and we drew those too. Even with all the flowers growing outside, my grandpa still bought her a dozen red roses on a regular basis.

I remember sitting in his lap in the brown recliner while he read me story after story until I we both fell asleep. He was so patient with me. I remember Campbell’s chicken and rice soup with ketchup and pepper. I remember being really young and gnawing on rye toast, and him eating it after I had already slobbered it up. I remember the Hostess Chocolate cupcakes he used to take in his lunch.

I remember the day I kept sneaking into the kitchen and ate a whole box of Popsicles. I was so sick. He didn’t yell at me for eating the whole box. He took care of me rather than yelling at me or lecturing me on a lesson I had already learned the hard way.

Grandpa George would come and get me as much as possible. He made me feel wanted and loved. He taught me how to play Solitaire. To this day, I can’t play it for very long without crying. He bought me my first bike. It was beautiful – dark pink with glitter. He taught me how to ride it, and mended my scrapes when I’d fall.

I remember the way he smelled, Old Spice and Vix. I remember the cough drops he ate, and sometimes let me have. To me, my grandpa represents love, patience, strength, long-suffering, honor, loyalty, and everything else I want to be. Whenever I think about doing something even mildly wrong, the first thing I think about is what he would think, if he knew what I was doing. My memory, honor, and love of him keeps me on the strait and narrow.

Grandpa George was, and remains the greatest man I have ever known. In six short years he made a lasting impact and taught me many lessons that will never leave me. As I grew older, and learned more about my family and it’s history, I have come to appreciate my grandfather even more.

In 1986 his life was cut short when he lost his battle to colon cancer. It was dark times for everyone. Visiting him in the hospital was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Towards the end he started to forget things, and people. My mom shielded me from that experience. I’m grateful to that. It would have broke my heart for him not to have known me. He died December 13th. Many people say that six year olds are too young to understand death, but I knew. I knew the finality of it. I understood my best friend was lost to me. I said my goodbyes at the viewing. I cried through the funeral. I still cry sometimes. All I have left are my memories, some photos, and the blanket we used when we napped.

Every year I take part in Relay for Life through my college. I will continue to do it after I graduate. Relay for Life raises money for the American Cancer Society. The money raised goes to cancer research as well as assisting those with cancer in our area. I take part in Relay for Life in memory of my grandpa, and in hope that some other little girl or boy doesn’t have to lose their grandfather.

If you would like to make a donation to the American Cancer Society and support me in this year’s Relay for Life, please visit my Relay page at

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