This is my personal narrative that I wrote for my Oral Interpretation class in school. I finally read it today in class, and now I want to share it with you!
A few weeks ago my family went to visit Grandma and Grandpa Cornell in the nursing home they just moved into. They are both 86 years old and it’s just easier to have them close by since Dad is the only one able to care for them since his brother and sister died. We have been aware that they are slowing down, but at 86, who wouldn’t be? Our visit went as normal as possible. Grandma told her usual stories about things that never happened as Dad gently reminded her of the truth, while Grandpa sat silently unless someone specifically addressed him. As we said our goodbyes for the night I hugged Grandpa and said “Goodbye! I’ll be back soon! Love you Grandpa.” Absently, Grandpa hugged me back and said “Goodbye Elizabeth.”
This sends me reeling. Too stunned to say anything, I left without correcting him. Holding back tears, the reality of my grandparents’ aging came crashing to Earth. To be fair, Elizabeth is my cousin, but this is the first time he has ever made a mistake about who I am. This was the first time that his mistakes couldn’t be justified by anything but old age. Growing up I knew he fought in Germany in World War II, went through the Depression, and that he and Grandma lost two children. He never talked about these things, but he was, in my mind, strong. Without knowing it, he taught me about growing crops, fixing bikes, and what it means to be independent.
It wasn’t until he called me Elizabeth that I really began to think about my time here on Earth. Grandpa, once again, has inadvertently taught me a lesson about life: it is short and I better not let it go. He sure didn’t. Grandpa taught me that I need to kick it into gear and discover my passions, teach my loved ones, even if by accident because I don’t have all the time in the world to accomplish everything.
Since then my family has visited grandparents a few times, and the mistake hasn’t been made since. So far, it seems to have been a one-time deal. I won’t forget it, but I’m grateful that I’m still their Rebekah.