An elderly man lay face up with his arms crossed over his body. He lay on a bed in the bedroom while his grandson watches TV in the next room over. Many of the distant family members have come to see the man in what may be his final days. His grandson has never met some of these people, and if he has met them he hears the all too familiar line, “Last time I saw you, you were this tall” or “You’ve gotten so big and tall.” He is greets them and is respectful but all he really wants is for his grandfather to be back to his normal self. He has never seen him so defeated and tired. In all his memories of his grandfather he is moving and lively even though he walked with a cane, but the young boy has never seen him like this. The doorbell rings and he answers it to see that there are friends from church with food to help the family in this tough time. He takes the food back to the kitchen. He smells the warm cookies that have just been baked, and put them on the counter. His mom tells him he can have one and he tries to push for two but she won’t budge. He takes his cookie back to the TV room, thanking the people from church for bringing all the food. He goes back to watching his show and finishes his cookie in silence away from all these new people he doesn’t really know. His sister asks him if he wants to go play outside for a little bit while the adults catch up on old times. They ride their scooters around for a little bit until they get tired and decide to go back inside. The young boy decided he wanted to go visit his grandpa for a little bit. As soon as he walks into the room he can tell that his grandpa is losing the fight. He has fought well but soon death may very well defeat him. The boy had a sudden realization that he may be losing his closest father figure. The boy had never met his real father and his grandpa was the closest thing he had ever had to his father. He had lived with his grandpa for his entire life and he had always been there for him. In the boys eyes he made up for never having a father. But without his grandpa who would he have? He had no idea.
He stood there thinking about it until the doorbell rang again. Finally a familiar face greets him. It is one of the neighborhood boys asking if he wants to come play football. At this time he would have do anything to get his mind off his grandpa and his battle with death. He agrees and they head to the neighbor’s backyard where his friends’ brother awaited their arrival. As usual they played rock, paper, scissors, to decide who would be all time offense for the game. The one of the neighborhood boys ended up being offense. He sighed with discontent and reluctantly went to receive the first kick. and they played until around five o’clock. It was around this time that the neighborhood boy’s mother called for all of them to come home. Once they got to the house she told the young boy that his mother awaited him on the porch. It was at this moment the boy knew. He knew his life would never be the same.
His sister had been playing with some of her friends and she burst into tears on the way home. Her mother held her and tried to comfort her, while the boy just walked ahead of both of them completely silent. He was never the type to be emotional when someone died. It was bit strange in fact, because he was always so vocal and passionate about things like sports and arguing with his sister. There was no reason that he couldn’t cry. He knew none of his family members would think any less of him. He just didn’t feel any emotions. When he got home, he walked into the bedroom where everyone was congregated around his grandfather. They asked if the boy wanted to say a final goodbye. He walked up to the bed, where his once lively grandfather laid motionless, and said his final goodbye. Still the boy felt as though he should feel different. He felt like he should be mad at something or someone. Now, the boy and his family believed in God. He knew that sometimes people blamed God for taking their loved ones away before they were ready for them to go. But the boy didn’t feel this way at all. The thought of who he should be mad at lingered in his mind as he walked into the TV room and sat down to watch Animal Planet. It was at this moment that he came to the realization that he would never hear his grandpas voice again.
Death had beaten his grandpa. It had beaten a person that the boy had once thought to be invincible. The boy was old enough to know that everybody died in the end. He struggled with the idea that everybody lost to death in the end. The idea that no matter what you did, everybody would eventually lose to death. No matter how hard you tried to be great you would never really win, because you would always lose in the end. But he couldn’t accept it. He couldn’t accept that a person as great as his grandpa could loss the ultimate battle. But he realized that even though he perished from the earth his memory would not. All the unfamiliar faces in the bedroom were people that would keep his grandfather’s memory going. He knew then that his grandfather had not lost. At this moment his mother and uncle walked in and told him something, but he wasn’t listening. He snapped back into reality and looked up at them. They asked what he was feeling. He turned and stared at the Zebras running across the African savannah and never did answer them. He remembered that his family was supposed to go to Africa next year. Now he was never going to be able to see the animals with his grandfather. Now it was getting late and his mother told him it was time for bed. He went to brush his teeth and then went to bed although he didn’t do much sleeping that night.
The next few days were a blur to the boy. A lot of people telling him stories about how great his grandfather was and saying everything was going to be ok. In the blink of an eye, it was time for the funeral. He realized that he had never been to a real funeral. He had only seen the ones on TV where everybody was dabbing their eyes and bawling while a few people said words about the deceased. He didn’t know what to expect. The funeral was going to be held at the church that he had gone to all his life and the pastor had been giving sermons for as long as the boy could remember. When he walked into the church the wooden pews were as full as he had ever seen them. The ceiling so high it seemed to touch the clouds, and shoe imprints all over the red carpet. There could have easily been 300 people there. The pastor said a few words at the start and then the boy’s uncle came up to say a few words. He made it through and said some very moving words that got most of the crowd crying. His uncle had always been very good with words. Pretty soon his uncle decided to read a poem and he barely made it through. He started getting chocked up and finished the poem just in time. As he walked back to his seat in the pew, a silence went over the crowd. A pianist sat down at the piano. He started to play the deceased’s favorite song. Bridge over troubled water by Simeon and Garfunkel. It was one of the most beautiful tunes the young man had ever heard. It was the perfect song for a funeral. He understood why his grandfather loved it so much.
As the funeral came to a close the young man began again to ponder the question of whether his grandfather had lost to death or won. Now some would say that there are never any losers in the end and everybody cares about someone, but the young man knew better than to believe this. He knew that not everybody was a winner. But he also didn’t think that everybody lost. He didn’t think that just because everybody died not everybody lost. Everybody may have life but not everybody lives. That’s the difference between winning and losing. It’s not about who dies and who lives because in the end everybody dies. And it’s also not about who makes the most money and knows the most people. It’s about who lives there life to the fullest. Who changes the most people’s lives and has a little fun themselves. Now the young man thought if his grandfather had done this, and he thought about all the people crying at the funeral. He thought about all the people at his house mourning the loss of a dear friend or family member. He thought about how much his grandfather had changed his life. He knew that his grandfather had succeeded. He knew the difference between winners and losers.