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My grandfather sits in a wheelchair by the window in the old people's home with his chin leaned into his chest, mumbling incessantly and unintelligibly to himself and drooling a little from the right corner of his mouth. Mom can't come here anymore. She just breaks down at the sight of him so I sometimes come by myself and sit with him in silence for a while.

It's a sad end to a long and hard life, and I morbidly think to myself that if a political party stepped forth now with the legalization of euthanasia on its agenda, I'd vote for it. After two strokes and a hemorrhage, topped with severe senile dementia, what is the point of letting people exist like robots? I know grandpa thought the same. Before his speech was impaired, he often said that the pacemaker was one of his biggest mistakes, and that people should be allowed to go when it was time to go.

Terrible as it sounds, I'm already starting to think about the obituary that I, having the best way with words in my branch of the family, will be requested to write, hopefully – yes, hopefully – within a year. The problem is that even though this person has been around all my life and much longer than that, I know next to nothing about him.

Perhaps I have over-idealized grandparents. They are different from parents. Parents you can see tired, angry and unhappy but grandparents are always in a good mood. They are the sweet, gray-haired, wrinkle-faced people who are there to brush the tears from your cheek and impart wisdom to help you become a better person – unlike parents they can do this without coming across as tyrannical. Where did all that wisdom come from? From the experiences accumulated by a long, long life, of course, but I've hardly ever thought about it like that.

It's strange to think that grandparents have a past. I mean, you know it in a sort of an abstract way, but it doesn't really hit you until you want to say something about it and you have no words. When all you can come up with is: "My grandfather was a good and kind old man with whom I often had enjoyable conversations until he was laid low by various ailments. Then he started talking nonsense and stopped recognizing me and remained so until he died." Then it dawns on you that your grandparents had a life, long before your existence. That they used to be young; children who had grandparents themselves; moody teenagers who slammed doors; adolescents who had their whole life ahead of them.

I do know that my grandfather grew up in the countryside, and it always puts into my mind a grainy, sepia-toned picture of a young man wearing dirty boots and a tattered shirt with rolled-up sleeves and suspenders and a flat cap on his head. It's a generic image which tells me nothing about grandpa.

I never asked him what it was like to grow up there, whether he enjoyed the peaceful but demanding agricultural work or whether he detested it and dreamed of exotic places. I never asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, whether he fought with his parents because he wanted to be a pilot while they wanted him to be a farmer or a banker.

I know that he came to the city to work for the Americans during the war, but I never asked him about his experience of war even if it was only indirect. Was he ever afraid? Was he one of those who lost a girl to an American soldier?

I know through calculations that he must have met grandma around that time. Of course, I never asked how they met or whether he was ever in love with someone else. In my narrow mind, grandparents are a constant, a unit – grandma and grandpa – inseparable until death do them part and even then inseparable in the memory. One without the other doesn't make sense. One or the other with someone else is just utterly mind-blowing. Of course, that's just naïve thinking on my part. Why shouldn't they have had other relationships in the past, way before they became grandma and grandpa? Why shouldn't they have had French kisses, heartbreaks, one-night-stands…Not that I want to know any details about that – and this train of thought must be derailed before causing me brain damage.

I look at grandpa and try to glean some of the old wisdom and comfort from his eyes, but they are clouded over and no more glint with hidden knowledge. I wish I could ask him what his happiest memory was; what he would take, if he was exiled to a deserted island and could only take three things with him.

I help him lean back in the chair from which he has been slowly leaning more and more forward until he is in an uncomfortable position. I guess our roles are somewhat reversed now, though of course, I have a long way to go.

When I stand to kiss him goodbye, he's still mumbling and I strain to make out the words. I've always brushed it off as senile nonsense but, really, it must mean something, at least to himself. I feel like I must know it, like it's the last chance I'll get to gain some understanding of this stranger I've known all my life. It sounds like 'wrong' but might as well be 'long' or 'gone' or something such.

I think about it on the way out and decide it sounded the most like 'wrong.' That is not a word I associate with grandparents. Grandparents are always right. They can't do anything wrong, except pushing the wrong buttons on remote controls. They don't lie or steal or whore or drive illegally – except maybe illegally slow – but then, why not? They're just human, after all – an absurdly surprising notion to my suddenly obviously naïve mind. I mean, this is something I've always known, but somehow never taken in. I wouldn't call it a cosmic realization, but it's striking when it hits you, sort of like suddenly noticing that you're breathing or blinking.

From the old people's home, I go to grandma's who still has enough strength and wits about her to live at home. She seems small and weary and more wrinkly than ever, but she smiles that special grandma smile at me. It's a joyful, loving, accepting, knowing smile and it makes me feel that she has real faith in me and my abilities, despite my own new-found doubts.

We sit down in the little kitchen and grandma makes coffee. After a while of chatting, we settle into silence until I pull up a notebook and pen. Then I look up at grandma who is sitting opposite to me, holding her cup with both her wrinkled hands and smiling, always smiling. "So grandma, can I ask you a few questions?"
A creative writing assignment. A response to Dylan Thomas' A Visit to Grandpa's. Also, the issue of grandparents has been weighing on me so it was good to get the chance to get it out, even if it's not what the teacher was asking for. I'm not sure.

Constructive criticism always heartily welcomed. :)

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:wtf: :jawdrop: :excited: :woohoo: :happycry:

I can't believe this! I got a DD! Holy crap! I feel so amazed and honored :bow: Thank you thank you thank you ^Beccalicious and *Naria-hime, I freaking love you! :love:

I would like to say, that although most of this is based on one of my own grandfathers, I have exaggerated and changed some things. I've been wanting to write something like this since I discovered he was just an ordinary flawed human being (:omfg:).

I am extra happy if this has encouraged you to strengthen your relationship with your grandparents. Thank you all so much for reading, commenting and faving :thanks:
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...You know, I think I've come to a new realization; the recipients of DDs are also just regular people, don't think I've ever realized that :D
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Daily Deviation

Given 2011-12-08
Questions I Never Asked My Grandfather by ~ragnaice Suggester Writes: This piece is an extremely touching, heartfelt and well-crafted text. It is very representative of a universal truth and should therefore not be overlooked. ( Suggested by Naria-hime and Featured by BeccaJS )
:iconbookcrusher:
bookcrusher Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2016  Student Writer
This brought tears to my eyes. I can relate very much the emotions here with my own towards my great-grandmother, she had always been there, an ever present figure I thought would never leave. I paid dearly for such thoughts when she passed away, when I realized she was almost a stranger to me, a stranger whom I loved and loved me back. I wish I had asked her the questions that now plague me, I wish to see her one last time so I can do with her all the things I should've done. Hands down one of the most wonderful and well-written piece. Thank you for the reminder that I must spend the time with my grandparents :)
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:iconbow-stitches:
Bow-Stitches Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so beautiful and you have an unique way with words.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much!
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:iconshippertrish:
ShipperTrish Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013
I really like how sincere and intimate this is. I've already lost all my grandparents and after reading this, I wish I had asked the questions you wanted to ask your grandfather and did ask your grandmother. I hope your conversation with her was fruitful and everything you had hoped it would be. Anyway, thank you for writing and sharing this. It's as full of wisdom as the wisdom you admire from your grandparents.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks though as stated in the a/n this was a 'creative' assignment, there's more fiction than reality in it...
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:iconsolarune:
Solarune Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012   Writer
This is beautiful. I wondered if it were non-fiction or based off reality, because there is so much truth and honesty and compassion in it. You never do see your grandparents as anything other than what they are in the present, but really they are so much more.
I love the part about "wrong" especially, and the part about the countryside.
Thank you for sharing this. :hug: And congratulations on the DD!
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for reading. And commenting :blowkiss:
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:iconsolarune:
Solarune Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012   Writer
You're welcome!
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:iconchinook84:
Chinook84 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012
Saw this a while ago and really liked it, without really understanding it. Having just read it again through tears, I really have to thank you for sparking the understanding that my grandparents are just ordinary people too. And for making me realize that I need to spend more time with them.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That's good to hear :) I appreciate your comment.
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:iconeebbob:
eebboB Featured By Owner May 30, 2012
well written. being a grandparent myself i would relish any inquiries into my life from my grandchildren. my own children never really wanted to hear of my 'prior' life. i would offer related 'life experiences' but, they just did not seem to see how any of 'that' related to them. to 'prime the pump' with my grandchildren, after having read your experience, i will now tell them that if they should ever wish to know about my life.....all they need do is ask, rather than me voluntering information that is unsolicited. thanks for the write, right....... eebboB
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner May 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much for reading, great to hear your perspective :)
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:icontanya3286:
tanya3286 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Professional Writer
You know, this was the thumb i wanted to read right away, when i saw the description. I must say you did a stand up job with this concept of 'knowing your grandparents for who they really are'.
I saw that you've said its based on your experience with of of your gran's. So some of the things in here really touched me too and made me giggle.. like illegally slow driving and pushing wrong buttons on remotes! <3
I lost my maternal grand dad late 10' and i was really close to him too... and i was fortunate enough to know his back story and stuff from his life. he had senile dementia too.. coupled with other problems. I do miss him, which is why I appreciate this piece even more. :hug:
There are a few places where the language is a little off but it doesn't really impair the beauty of this piece.. halfway along the way I started wondering if this has a DD.. cuz it seemed to me it should. (also cuz i noticed a load of comments) xD ..and sooo it did!
well deserved mate! I enjoyed it. :heart:
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :hug:
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:icontanya3286:
tanya3286 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2012  Professional Writer
:love:
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:iconcstyleish:
Cstyleish Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012
I loved it! It was fantastic. You are such a creatively writer, and I wish I was the same. :)
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw, thank you :hug:
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:iconcstyleish:
Cstyleish Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2012
You're welcome! :hug:
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:iconenergy-of-light:
Energy-Of-Light Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2012  Professional Photographer
That was fantastic, I wish I could write so creatively as you! It stirs up many of the same emotions I felt - and still feel - about my late grandparents. I am overwhelmed with what I can best describe as 'joy' when I read or view someone's work whether it is literature, photography, drawing or anything which they have clearly thought long and hard over to achieve a quality and inspiring end result! A very worthy DD, congratulations! :)
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I'm glad you liked it. Best not disillusion you about the long-and-hard-thinking part... :hmm:
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:iconenergy-of-light:
Energy-Of-Light Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2012  Professional Photographer
It's so obvious you have deeply thought about your grandparents and it all comes out in this brilliant piece. I hope you never give writing up! :)
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:iconmagratgarlick:
MagratGarlick Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Again, hundskaist loksins til a lesa. Ef g a segja eins og er var g eiginlega bin a kva v a lesa etta. Bir afar mnir voru dnir ur en g fddist, ara mmu mna hitti g aldrei v hn var komin stofnun me Alzheimers lngu ur en g fddist (og d egar g var sex ra) og egar g var ngu gmul til a hafa vit v a reyna a kynnast hinni mmu minni fr hn a hitta sna forfeur. g hugsa oft um a v a er svo margt einmitt sem g hefi vilja vita um mmur mna og afa, en mun aldrei f a vita. Og svo til a toppa etta allt saman er mir mn stkr einnig bin a f slmt heilablfall (og nokkra "vga" bltappa bi fyrir og eftir a) og getur skaplega lti sagt mr, og a er sko margt sem g ekki veit um mur mna, enda var hn aldrei vn a tala miki um sjlfa sig, held hn fari ekki a taka upp v nna(og tti erfitt me a ef hn vildi). g s nna fram unga barttu nstu rin vi a f pabba minn til a opna sig og deila einhverju me mr, ar sem hann er a eina sem g eftir fjlskyldunni sem hefur upplifa mislegt lngu fyrir minn tma...

En etta er islegt hj r. Gtir rugglega tt etta, sett upp sem og fengi prenta sem smsgu Stnu (ef ekkir a ekki er a svona tmarit um bkmenntir og listir, prenta lj og smsgur og allskonar) og jafnvel fleiri stum. Held etta eigi alveg erindi til ungs flks dag, a bera v miur ekki allir viringu fyrir eldra flki ea gera sr grein fyrir v hversu mikilvgt a flk er okkur. etta vekur mann til umhugsunar og minnir mann a nta tmann sem maur hefur me eim sem manni ykir vnt um.
g gti haldi fram leeeeengi, en g held g lti etta ngja bili.
bara, love it, you rock.
(p.s. hvernig gerir maur svona "feature"?? o.o )
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
a er ekki lti ig lagt :hug:
og, j, g bst vi a etta s heimfranlegt yfir foreldra :nod:. Takk takk fyrir a lesa og kommenta, g hafi ekki hugsa t a a etta en hver veit...

Og til a 'gera feature' arftu a senda vieigandi moderator skilabo og segja hva vilt feature-a(?) og kannski hvers vegna og kannski velur hann/hn a einhvern tman. getur lesi um a hrna: [link] etta var mjg vnt, eyilagi alveg daginn fyrir bkmenntaprfi arna. Ni v samt ;)

Takk aftur fyrir a lesa og kommenta :)
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:iconmagratgarlick:
MagratGarlick Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
What doesn't kill ya makes ya stronger ;)
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:iconzhouyufei:
Zhouyufei Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2011
This was very moving. It made me think of things that I usually push to the outskirts of my biased mind - a mighty feat, I assure you. Although I'm a bit late (Understatement of the decade XD) I congratulate you on this wonderful piece of literature. It pulls my heartstrings and is worthy of being a DD.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much, I'm happy you liked it :D
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:iconmaverick494:
maverick494 Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011
Truly heartbreaking but at the same time very recognizable. Very well done! I'm wondering what your teacher thought of it, if he was as impressed as I am.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I am wondering the very same thing but he's in no hurry...
Thank you so much for reading :)
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:iconbattledaughter:
BattleDaughter Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
V. trlega vel skrifu og snn saga. g vildi a g hefi haft rnu mr a tala meira vi afa minn og mmu mean au voru lfi. g fkk tr augun... Innilega til hamingju me DD, og gangi r vel lfsleiinni!
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
, takk fyrir a :aww: og smuleiis :)
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:iconsgwlessiut:
SGWLESSIUT Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I need to talk to my grandparents over the summer. I'm not that good at Chinese though, and they can't speak English, but I think this really woke me up.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad to hear it. I'm sure you'll figure something out to communicate with them :hug:
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:iconsparrow-of-the-sea:
Sparrow-of-the-Sea Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011
wow... this is...wow
-you are a great writer :) keep up the good work
-this has so much feeling and ....I just felt so much emotion well up inside me as I read this, and the last line, love it.
:D
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much, I'm so glad you enjoyed reading :love:
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:iconxseeingstarsx:
xSeeingStarsx Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Thank you so much for this peice. My grandmother recently passed away and all I can really think about is how much I didn't know about her. She must of had a fascinating life, growing up in Germany during WWII, marrying a US GI, raising my dad (probably the most interesting XD) an I am so said that I only have glimmers of insight to her life.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry about your grandmother. And that does sound like an interesting life (what long life isn't?). Perhaps you can get information by other means?

Thanks for reading :hug:
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:iconpharold:
PHarold Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
There are things that I wished I had asked my grandfather, but I couldn't speak the language. I was never good speaking Chinese and he couldn't speak English. There were a few words he picked up, but for the most part everything I knew about my grandparents came from talking to my mom and dad.

But how you describe how people in your life are just there, and should be certain things, makes me think about others in my life that have always been there and one day won't be.

Thank you for sharing this.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, you are right. This can apply to parents as well. Aunts, uncles or any number of people that we take for granted, it's important to remember that.

Thank you for reading and making this observation :thanks:
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:iconpharold:
PHarold Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You're so welcome, and congrats on the DD!
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:iconronweasleyismyking:
ronweasleyismyking Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This really hit home for me. This is so similar to the story of my grandparents. My grandpa had a stroke when I was one, and then quickly developed Alzheimers, and I never knew him as his 'real' self. I heard people talk about him all the time, what he used to be like, but I never knew that, and it makes me sad. This really helped me to reflect back on my grandparents, and the feelings I had when he was dying. So all i can really say is thank you.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, those persons that people talk about are nothing like the persons we know, I know that feeling. I remember finding out when I was a kid, that one of my grandfathers had risked his life to save some men on a sinking ship. I looked at him and I could not imagine this heroic side of him, he was just jolly good, grey-haired, old grandpa to me (though the knowledge did make me very proud). Then he also got Alzheimers, are there any old people that don't get it in this day and age?? It can be dreadful :(

I'm glad this brought back memories for you, and I thank you for reading :hug:
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:iconmynhphrah:
Mynhphrah Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually I was very close to my grandparents as a child and as a teenager, and as my grandmother was a teacher, she had tons of stories to tell, and I knew I was free to ask as many questions as I needed to, knowing she would always answer me. Family is very important and I believe we all should get close to our grandparents while there is still time. This is what I did when they were alive and I am glad I did it. I could show them how much I loved them when they were still alive and I have no regrets. If I ever become a grandmother someday, I hope I can get close to my grandchildren as much as I was close to my grandparents.
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
That's great! I was a pretty self-centered kid and had no interest in anything 'old' and it's biting me in the butt now :( Would that I had had your sense...

Thank you for reading :)
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:iconmynhphrah:
Mynhphrah Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Your text was really nice to read, very well written and so close to reality for so many people... But I am sure you loved your grandparents and that they knew about it. :)
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes. Let us hope :)
I'm totally overwhelmed by the reaction to this story. It's great! Thanks again :)
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:iconhotarubrokenwings:
hotarubrokenwings Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011
VERY poignant. Needs to be read by everyone. I'm glad you got it out even if it wasn't what the teacher asked for.

And yes, it did encourage me to strengthen my relationship with my grandmas. (All grandfathers are deceased at this point)
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Frankly, I don't much care anymore what the teacher will say. He can't take away all these heartwarming comments :love:

Thank you for your compliments. I'm happy to hear your reaction :)
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:iconryuuseisoul:
RyuuseiSoul Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Reminds me of my grandpa, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer's :(
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:iconragnaice:
ragnaice Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry. It's an awful disease :(
Thanks for reading :hug:
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:iconnieomy:
Nieomy Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2011
oh ,sweet Jesus. Am crying! This is so beautiful!
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