When I was 8-years old, my grandfather died. I had always enjoyed going to visit my grandma and grandpa on their farm near Sault Ste. Marie; we would light off fireworks, eat pie, tell stories and play games. But his death made me realize that I hadn't known him that well at all.
I missed him, and I was sad I never got to know him better. Right then, I promised myself that I wouldn't make the same mistake again.
I decided to get to know my other grandparents, and all my relatives, because I would rather love someone and lose them than never learn to love them.
I spent more time with my grandma after that, and whenever she was around, I made a point to talk to her and play games with her. My grandma loved to play cards and board games, reliably beating everyone in a fair game of Scrabble.
After my grandpa died, she sold the farm and moved into an apartment in town, but it was always fun to stay with her for the afternoon or overnight while my parents did more boring errands. She would take us to the Soo Locks, and we had ice cream and played mini golf at least once every summer.
My grandma began to get older but we still went to visit her, even if she couldn't come to Marquette very often anymore. She moved into assisted living, and didn't get out and about.
I still loved going to see her, though. The way her face lit up when she saw my brother and I was more than worth the three-hour drive to get there. We brought her ice cream and pie, her favorite treat, and played euchre on the same wooden table that had been at the farm. I gave her piano recitals and made birthday cards, and she gave me smiles and laughter in return.
This spring, my grandma ended up in the hospital after a series of medical problems. We drove to Sault Ste. Marie to find her in the ICU, weak and hooked up to a variety of machines to keep her alive and stable. I didn't know what to do, but we talked to her and she enjoyed talking with us. My family came from all over the country, one aunt driving all the way from Florida for a visit. We knew it wouldn't be long, and no one wanted to be too late.
When my grandmother passed away after being put in hospice care, it was surprising to no one, but sad for all. This time, though, I didn't regret it. I spent time with my grandmother, I made sure she knew how much I loved her and we had a lot of fun. I won't remember her as the old woman lying in a hospital bed, but as my grandma who baked the best apple pie and picked wild strawberries to eat right away.
She may be gone, but I will always have my memories of her, and that's more important. If her spirit is with my grandpa watching over me, I hope she smiles at this, and knows she is loved -even if she beat me at cribbage and never had mercy.
Memories live on, so we should all spend time making memories with the people around us, and ensuring that they know they're loved.
I hope I can keep making good memories, forget the bad ones, and never regret leaving something important undone. We should all try sometimes to follow my grandma's good example: Eat your dessert first since that's the part you want most anyway.
Editor's note: Maggie Guter, 16, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in sailing, skiing and piano. Her parents are Jake Guter and Mary Doll of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.