Carrying on my grandfather’s spirit

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Olivia Cotton, 11, Charles Cotton, 8, Khloe Del Carmen, 5, and Christopher Cotton, 4, put an angel wing ornament on the Christmas tree Dec. 25 at the Cotton residence. The ornament honors their great-grandfather Charles Holden, who died in March, and keeps him with his family in spirit for the holiday season.  Courtesy

Olivia Cotton, 11, Charles Cotton, 8, Khloe Del Carmen, 5, and Christopher Cotton, 4, put an angel wing ornament on the Christmas tree Dec. 25 at the Cotton residence. The ornament honors their great-grandfather Charles Holden, who died in March, and keeps him with his family in spirit for the holiday season. Courtesy

Grandfather’s last words inspire me in my journey.

Viewpoint by Kyle R. Cotton

kcotton11@student.alamo.edu

In March, it will officially be one year since my grandfather passed away; however, his death is not the reason I’m writing this, but rather the last words he said to me.

In late 2014, he had a health scare that required surgery. He seemed to accept that it was his time.

It was a miracle he made it out of surgery. With the gift of time, he was able to spend time with and send messages to everyone he cared about until he lay down to sleep.

He was watching his great-grandchildren and died while my grandmother, my brother and his wife were out thrift shopping in March.

Cotton

Cotton

When they arrived home, my nurse sister-in-law tried unsuccessfully to revive him.

I was not one of the fortunate few who got to spend time with him in his last months.

My grandfather lived in Mississippi. I hadn’t been able to see him in two years as either school or work got in the way as I kept trying to improve myself.

In those two years, I met some amazing people at the Alamo Colleges in Northeast Lakeview’s drama program and this college’s journalism program who gave me direction. I had felt lost and out of place at Texas Lutheran University before I came here.

My grandfather missed these key events in my life. He never got to see me play Earl Hill in “Book of Days” at NLC or see the amount of time I gave up trying to obtain my degree, which I will receive this May.

But what he did do was post on my Facebook wall — of all places — saying, “Hey Maynard, I see you’re writing for the school paper. Keep up the good work.”

He was reading my stories every week at The Ranger Online all the way from Mississippi.

He was proud of me, and ever since then I’ve carried that message with me as if he were watching me work as journalist.

It’s cliché to thank God for blessings for everything, and I usually avoid doing so, so it doesn’t lose its meaning, but the amount of time he was given after his health scare was a blessing for my family.

In the months before his death, he was allowed to have a profound impact on all of us with even the simplest thing he would say.

It is with that thankfulness, I encourage everyone who reads this to reach out and talk to someone you are close to that you’ve haven’t seen lately and tell them you love them, because you don’t know how much time you have or how much what you say can impact that person.

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