Traveling to Onapa, Oklahoma when I was eleven changed my life for the better. Let me set the scene. I was only eleven years old journeying with my dad and my sister. For a child the trip seemed like it was an eternity, but in reality it was only three says there. We stopped at numerous tourists’ spots and attractions such as a buffalo ranch. The car ride wasn’t the most important part of the trip though.
Until this trip, I had never met my grandfather. For three days I wondered what he looked like and what I should say to him. On that third day we pulled up to a little farm ranch. I was filled with excitement but I was also really nervous. I stepped out of the truck and I found myself being in complete shock and so was my sister. My sister and I were both disappointed and confused. He was hard to understand at first, but I found out later that he had a stroke a year earlier which affected his speaking ability. At that moment my sister didn’t want to spend time with him and nor did I.
But that was soon about to change when I was sitting down at the pond by myself fishing. It was the perfect day to go fishing; the temperature was a little warm but there was a slight breeze making it a great day to go fishing. As I was sitting there alone, my grandpa came and sat by me. He began talking to me which was very awkward at first. I soon grew fond of him being around. He was loving, caring, interesting, fascinating, and wise to listen to. I soon realize that we loved to do the same exact things, such as fishing and being in the outdoors. He ended up developing a nickname for me which was bluegill. He thought of this nickname because when I was fishing down at the pond, would catch one-hundred bluegill. So every time he would go anywhere, he would ask me if I wanted to go or he would “bluegill you want anything.”
After that first trip to Oklahoma I ended going back every single summer to visit him, even when my sister stopped going. There was an aspect of the trip that wasn’t quite enjoyable. We had to stay in a tiny motor home that had one bedroom and there was no running water. Every single dinner we ate Sloppy Joes, hotdogs, or Hungry Man TV dinners. At the end the trip, it was worth the three days in truck and staying in a tiny motor home for a month.
That summer I learned a lot about myself and a grandpa that I never knew. He taught me little about my Okie Heritage. And he also showed me that you can live a simple life and work hard everyday and still live the happy life. My seven year relationship came to a shrieking halt on my grandpa’s demise on September 10, 2008. Even though he is gone physically, I will always remember him emotionally and spiritually. I will never forget that first trip to Onapa, Oklahoma.
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