Friday, 18 January 2013

In the Footsteps of my Grandfather


I was just settling in my new job working as a journalist in the mainstream media when my grandfather fell critically ill.
He had been having chronic ailments before and this was not a surprise but I didn’t imagine he wouldn’t come out of this alive.
My grandfather had braved his long illness, keeping strong amidst constant medication, being in and out of hospital and so I thought this would be just like the other moments.
As hectic as life gets in this job, it took me a month to go visit a man I had grown up to love and to cherish. And when I did he see him, I was overwhelmed.
He couldn’t recognize me by his side, his eyes looked distant and I realized how terrible things had become for him.
When I called his name he replied in grunts, the only thing that gave me hope that he could have heard me.
I resisted the urge to cry, rationalizing that he was still alive and quite superstitious that crying would forestall doom.
Now that he is gone, I find many similarities between him and me. In death I realize I have lived life unconsciously with his principles guiding me.
Growing up in the village with my grandparents I saw how hard my grandpa worked to put a meal on the table for us.
He worked hard in the farm, in his makeshift bicycle garage and doing other jobs he got because of his experience in many fields applicable to the village.
His work ethic was terrific, working to the best of his ability and making sure whatever he touched became the best it could ever be.
I remember an incident in which a man brought a bicycle to be repaired. Apparently, he had less money to pay for a full repair on his bike. As he saw my grandpa prepare he thought he should suggest that only key area be repaired and others left so as to save on costs.
My grandpa would have none of it and re-assembled the bike and told him to go to another fundi who would do that because that was not how he operated.
My entire life has been premised on that. It is based on hard work that I have surmounted challenges to be what I have become.
With many potholes along the way, being a graduate and a journalist were things many people even some members of our immediate extended family imagined would not become a reality for us.
And even the choice of the profession could be directly related to my interaction with my late grandpa.
My grandpa was full of stories. As a man who played soccer and traveled to Uganda and many of the towns and cities in country, he always had a story to tell me when we met.
His stories formed part of my compositions in my schooling and fetched good marks and even when I joined college to pursue an education degree, it wasn’t what I intended to do. The urge to be story teller remained.
One year into teaching, I left to pursue the passion engraved in me by my grandpa at an early age; journalism. It is sad that the same thing he inspired me to be kept me away from spending time with him on his deathbed.
I believe in being honest and talking out my mind. I keep friends and respect all. Above all I understand that my family comes first. My grandpa lived like that.
I am told that as he lay sick on his bed, he called on my name and those of his other grandchildren and prayed that God would guide us and bless our lives.
My grandpa protected us and held our extended family together, something he has done even in his death.
As painful as death may be, I plan to be an inspiration to my family; they might just realize it when I am gone

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