From Horrible Heart Health to A Better Life

From Horrible Heart Health to A Better Life
By: Cassie Johnson

Cranky, cynical and cold- my grandfather decidedly saw the glass as perpetually half empty. He wasn’t the type of grandfather who played games with the grandchildren or helped Grandma prepare dinner. On the contrary, my grandfather much preferred to sit alone on the couch, watch television, and complain about the world. Nothing ever pleased him, from my academic accomplishments to Grandma’s homemade bread. He was determined to face the world with a frown and expect the worst. The family had grown accustomed to his Debby-downer ways and we thought he’d stay the same until the day he died. However, we were wrong.

When I was eight years old, Grandpa had a heart attack. This wasn’t really a surprise to anyone, as he’d been a lifelong smoker and had suffered from high blood pressure for the last ten years. In fact, the only person surprised by this was Grandpa himself. He couldn’t believe that he’d come so close to death. When my parents and I went to visit him the in the hospital, he was sitting on the bed, close to tears. Once I overcame my shock that my unfeeling grandfather actually had feelings, I was able to listen to his narrative to my father. He was thoroughly upset that he had wasted so much of his life not only being unhealthy, but also being such a crabby old man. He couldn’t even begin to fathom how many good memories he had missed out on by refusing to embrace life and to find the silver lining. Once he was done discussing his enlightenment, he shared with us his determination to love life and find happiness, as well as take better care of himself. I listened in awe, but took it with a grain of salt. I couldn’t believe that he could become a man who enjoyed life and the people in it, or quit smoking. I couldn’t picture my grandfather without a cigarette in his hand.

Grandpa went home shortly after that, and we came up to visit the next weekend. The car ride there, my mom and I discussed our thoughts on Grandpa changing and being a fun guy. We walked into their house with doubt clouded optimism. As soon as he knew we were there, Grandpa leapt of out his arm chair and ran towards us. We all stepped back instinctively, but rather than complain about the world to us, he hugged us. He was so excited to see us, and to share with us his new outlook. According to him, and verified by Grandma, he had been much happier, ditched the television watching and had started working in the garage again. Furthermore, he hadn’t touched a cigarette since he’d been home. While we were there, he even helped Grandma make dinner and played a game of cards with me. We left their house with a sense of happy surprise.

In the three years after the heart attack that Grandpa lived, he lived a full life. He finally spent time with and enjoyed the company of his family, and finished the car he’d been working on in his garage for at least fifty years. He never picked smoking back up, and he even lost weight and got his blood pressure under control. After Grandpa’s heart attack, his whole life changed for the better. That’s the importance of heart health- the huge impact it can have on a person’s life.