I spent most of my childhood with my grandfather.
As I still remember, he was a tall man, with a very big belly like a drum but he was not fat. His hair was very white and he did not have beard.
My grandfather used to be a soldier in both France-Vietnam and American-Vietnam wars and he was one of the people who made Truong Son road, the most important road in the wars, connecting the North and the South of Vietnam. According to my mother, my grandfather was very assertive and a strict disciplinarian. But he loved his children very much. He made sacrifices for my mother, my uncle and my aunt: he retired earlier than usual. He did anything to earn money to raise his children: made and sold broom, made peanut candies,… Grandfather was very skillful and creative, so his shop had many customers. Because he was a soldier, he never backed down when he had to face with difficulties.
When I was small, I used to tease and even often “scold” him. At that moment, my grandfather only smiled and laughed a little with interest. He seemed to think that I just only a child, and a child didn’t know anything.
I spent my summer holiday at my grandparents’ house. I had nobody but my grandfather to play with. But he seemed to like TV more than me. My grandmother was very angry with my grandfather because he watched TV all day. When my grandmother went shopping, I stayed at home with my grandfather and played alone. He often fell asleep while watching TV. Then, I would slap at his big belly and said: “Grandfather, wake up and play with me!” I knew he had already woken up, but he still pretended that he was sleeping. Therefore, I continued slapping at his belly.
As I’ve said before, my grandfather had a very big stomach but no one in our house knew that he had liver cancer until one day, my grandfather had a stomachache and he couldn’t eat anything. When he was still in the army, he had had a lot of malaria. And malaria’s side-effects had turned into liver cancer. Our family didn’t have enough money, so we sold our grandparent’s house. My grandfather then lived in my uncle house, which was very far away from my house. Therefore, I could not visit my grandfather regularly. When my father was ill, I was in grade 5, so I had to prepare for my secondary entrance exam. Hence, I did not have enough time to visit him.
Because of the entrance exam for the secondary school, I was so busy that I did not miss my grandfather very much. Sometimes, my uncle told my mother that my grandfather missed me and my younger sister very much. My mother told me that we would visit him every weekend, but I had too many extra classes so I just visit him only one or two times.
One morning, about 4 o’clock, my uncle phoned my mother that my grandfather had passed away suddenly. My parents immediately went to the hospital. I was too shocked to do anything.
My grandfather was a kind, loving father and grandfather. He had taken care of me, sometimes he taught me, sometimes he told me many fairy tales. He did everything for his children and grandchildren, but when he was ill, I did not visit him much, I didn’t do anything to make him happy just for his last days of his life, I did not do anything…I still regret that I did not spend just a little for caring for my grandfather and maybe I will never be forgiven.