Love, memories of grandfather continue to give strength


Cara Helton

Sophomore Peytan Owens talks about the impact her grandparents have had on her life.

Peytan Owens, Special Contributor

I always loved playing dress up with my grandparents. Me and my grandpa would dress up as southern cowboys and chase each other around the house. That’s the last time I remember having a true smile on my face. 

In 2014, my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At the time I was only 7, so I didn’t fully understand what was happening. My mom and grandma would always tell me to cherish my moments with him after his diagnosis, but I just didn’t understand. Over the course of the years I began to realize what they meant as he began to forget my name.

James Owens colors with his granddaughter Peytan Owens in 2009. (Submitted by Peytan Owens)

I lived with my grandparents until I was 15. When I was 10, every morning during summer I would cook breakfast for my grandpa with a Bud Light beer. It was how he always liked his breakfast. After breakfast, we would go outside and either play ball together or collect these bug sheddings we would find on our fences.

As I began to understand that he no longer knew who I was, I began to isolate myself from him in fear of being in pain. But either way, I was destroyed to the core. Staying away from him was just as painful or more.

He ended up passing away Dec. 17, 2019. I remember my mom telling me when I came home from school that day. I dropped to my knees holding my chest, it was like everything in me was sucked out at that moment. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t make a sound. 

His funeral is when everything came crumbling down on me. The realization hit me that he was no longer here. 

Even though he forgot who I was in the end, he would still give me the sweetest smile ever and ask who I was and if I was okay and needed help. He was everything to me. If I could, I would take back every ugly thing I said to him. Every day of my life I regret not spending more time with him. Thinking about seeing him in his hospital bed tears my heart into pieces. He was in so much pain and I couldn’t do anything to help him. I ask God “why him” every night.

Ever since he’s passed, I’ve tried to take very good care of my grandma for him. I protect my grandma as much as I am able to, help her in every way I can. Every weekend, I go to her house to keep her company. There’s been times where we’ve had deep conversations about my grandpa, and we always end up holding each other crying. But I know my grandpa is right there with us, holding onto us as well. 

Everything I do is for him and my grandma, I’ve come so far because of them. They’ve given me the strength to keep going and not give up on anything, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I do the best I can do for them. I push myself harder each day for them. I’ve overcome severe depression thanks to them. I work on my attitude, strategies and just overall mental health for them.

They tried to give me the best childhood they could, now it is my turn to not lose grip and give up for them. My grandma is counting on me, and I know my grandpa is watching me, protecting every step I take and every breath I inhale.