A trip to a foreign land never fails to leave everlasting footprints along the shores of your memories. New experiences and encounters with foreign cultures embed themselves in your memories and, without your knowledge, they begin to shape who you are and how you act for the rest of your life. A trip to Scotland in October of 2010 with my dad has left me with just that and much more. The nature of our trip, however, was just a bit more serious than a carefree jaunt around Scotland. My dad and I were visiting his long-lost father, my grandfather, an experience which has left me with memories that still bring tears to my eyes.
After a grueling eight hour trip my father and I finally arrived in Aberdeen Airport, from which we hailed a cab to our hotel, Inn at the Park. The foliage around us was beautiful and lush with life, and after unpacking our suitcases, we headed towards my grandfather’s house.
Upon arriving at my grandfather’s house, we were greeted by Anna, his wife, who kindly ushered us in and offered us a seat in the living room. My dad and I waited in a nervous silence as Anna left to fetch Robert.
After a short wait, a very tall man, walking with a bit of a stoop, perhaps from back pain, entered the room. My grandfather held a cane in one hand, had graying hair, and sported a large pair of glasses. The one feature that stood out to me though, were his brilliant blue eyes. The shade of blue was comparable to a clear mid-summer’s sky and I found myself transfixed. However, it wasn’t the brilliant blue that had me transfixed, it was the dull, vacant look that they bore. I was told that my grandfather had had cancer and that it was in remission, but no one could have possibly told me the toll the cancer took on this man. They brightened for a second when he saw his son standing in the room to greet him, and for that split second, I saw a glimpse of the vibrant man, soldier, father, and husband he had once been, but after he sat down, they glossed over once again from the overload of prescriptions he was required to take. His eyes remained half-closed for the remainder of our stay, and I could tell it was taking every bit of effort he had to pay attention. He seemed to drift in and out of awareness, only taking part in half our conversations.
My eyes began to burn, not with tears of happiness for meeting my grandfather for the first time, but out of sorrow and pity. My dad finally, after 38 years, had the chance to see his own father, but this wretched disease had brought him into a state of half-existence. My dad was only meeting the shell of his father, a shadow of his former self. My dad, being the stoic person that he is, said little after out visit, but I wanted to cry a river on his behalf. I wanted to cry for the unlived memories and experiences that he missed out on and that will remain forever irretrievable and lost in regret.
This trip has taught me lessons in love and appreciation that I will always carry within me. My dad has made it his silent goal to be the dad that he never had for me, and words, no matter how eloquent or skillfully written, will never be able to convey the appreciation and love I have for my dad.
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