My family takes an annual vacation down to Clearwater, Florida all seventeen years of my life. My mother, father, sister, and I visit the Clearwater beach and stay in the nearby town Holliday for ten days each spring, to not only escape the chill of Ohio during Spring Break, but to see my grandparents that also live in Holliday as well. Though the beach is familiar, it is always a nostalgic place and a relaxing destination to return to once each year. Clearwater hosts one of the longest periods of time that my family is able to spend together during the year. However, though I could not have predicted it then, last year’s visit was more important than any others to me, and more important than I realized during my time there.
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I enjoyed my spring break in the same way that I do every year. Some of my favorite activities include golfing with my dad, jet-skiing, swimming, and walking along the sponge docks of New Port Richey. The area is a beautiful foil to the frozen rain and snow that Ohio perpetuates in the early months of the year. Shells from the beaches were my favorite souvenir that I would return home with as a child, not only finding them but being given shells to take with me from my grandparents. It was also a blessing to have the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents and my father’s siblings one time each year. Due to their age, the only contact that I could have with my grandfather and grandmother were occasional calls with them for my birthday or to check how I was, so I knew that they appreciated our visit just as much as I did. I do not doubt that getting to see such supportive and loving people as my grandparents made my stays in Florida much more than just vacations. Family, nice weather, and many things to do made Clearwater a great place to spend my break.
The Sun and ocean were not the reasons why my last trip to Florida was memorable. During the time that my family was there, my grandfather had fallen ill in his old age and stayed in the hospital for the duration of my vacation. I was fortunate enough to visit him in the hospital a few times and talk with him; I had never seen my grandfather in this kind of condition before. A part of my vacation that I remember most vividly was finding an old Spanish guitar of his while visiting my grandmother at their home. She told me that the guitar was never used anymore, and that I should ask my grandfather if I could bring it back home with me because I am a guitarist. He told me that he thought it would me a great idea, on the condition that I made sure I played it and would not allow it to just sit like he had. On the last day of my vacation that I saw him, I promised him that I would use it well and play once I returned home, and I kept that promise.
That trip to Florida would be the last visit that I would get with my grandfather. He passed away on November 10, 2011. Being a WWII veteran, old age seemed to be the only thing that could eventually bring him down. But he left me with a memento within his guitar that I brought back home, and have since learned to play fingerstyle on the Spanish guitar and named it Vincent, after my grandfather.
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