A Change of Heart
Stepping through the revolving glass doors of the hospital felt like entering a completely different world. With my arms crossed over my chest, I followed my parents though the never-ending, eggshell white hallways. My nostrils burned from the fumes of cleaners and sterility. Lovely paintings and luscious plants filled the walkways, trying to mask the hollow, empty feeling that most visitors felt. We passed two types of people along the way to our destination: the kind that strolled by while flashing everyone big, cheery smiles, and the people who kept their gaze straight ahead ignoring your mere existence; I preferred the latter. I did not belong in this place. This was a place for the sick, a place where people went to die. My grandfather did not belong here. We continued walking as my thoughts slipped away to a more pleasant time in my life.
I pictured our family tradition of traveling to my grandparents' home every Sunday afternoon. Their quaint little home, white washed with baby blue shutters welcomed any stranger and had a faint honeysuckle aroma that soothed the weariest of souls. We ate lunch together with my grandfather and grandmother sitting like kings and queens at opposite ends of the table. Then everyone gathered in the family room and spent the late afternoon playing games and catching up on the big events of the week. My grandfather spent his time playing with each grandchild one at a time so we would feel special. Anyone could tell that he loved his job as a grandparent. His eyes twinkled with delight and his smile never faded as he spent time with us. He loved throwing us up in the air with his powerful arms, until we squealed with delight as our stomachs flew above our heads.
That was before he got sick, before he had to watch his diet and stick himself with needles full of a magical substance that promised to fight his disease, thus giving him temporary relief. The disease plagued my heart just as it did his body. Although he still valued the time we spent together, mother warned us not to be rough round him just like she warned us not to be rough around my baby brother, we knew that something had changed. As the years past, the outlook grew worse and the doctors thought it necessary to amputate his right leg. I thought about disabled people I would pass on the street, whom were not able to walk or missing a part or parts of their body. I knew that people children as well as adults starred at these individuals or completely ignore them. Their differences set them apart from what is socially acceptable, my grandfather was now socially unacceptable.
Finally reaching his tiny, prison-like cell, my parents entered while I prepared myself for the scene that awaited me. My...