Narrative Essay about My Grandfather

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The Invisible One

I sit dejectedly on the sofa counting the minutes until this painful ordeal is over. The tick of the grandfather clock is muffled by the sound of cheerful guests and talkative relatives, joyous laughter and corks popping, not to mention the blaring music. I sit resentfully wondering how my mother had convinced me to come to this party, or as she liked to call it, “family-gathering”. I sit on the other side of the room, distancing myself as far away from any form of social interaction. My Grandfather sits across from me in his brocade armchair, barely saying a word. He has always kept himself to himself, as long as I have known him, anyway. I tilt my head as I try to decipher this mysterious man, my face perplexed with confusion.

“Who’s ready for lunch?” my Grandmother exclaims joyfully, followed by a cheer from the roomful of people. I think and wonder how such a lively woman could end up with such a mundane and frankly boring character. The avid party-goers stream out through the living room door and into the dining room - all except one person, that is - my Grandfather. The music fades as the playlist ends, the silence in the room becoming increasingly deafening. I look around struggling to fix my eyes in one place, distracted by the quiet in the room.

“So, how are you Granddad?”, I reluctantly ask, somewhat hoping to start a conversation, “I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

No reply. I try again.

“How are you, Granddad?”, I persist.

I wait for an answer but still nothing. His eyes are glued to the bookshelf in front of him. I give up and conclude he must be losing his hearing with age. I huff a petulant sigh and pull out my phone – my last resort at this torturous gathering. I flick grumpily through my friends’ stories, longing for freedom from this event. My eyes fall into the screen of my Instagram feed, my finger scrolling up and down the endless pages.

“I can still smell the cannon smoke hanging in the rancid air”, a low, deep voice cuts through the silence with its unmistakable tone.

I lift my head from the screen impulsively and do a double-take. I turn around and am once again startled by the low voice.

“We trudged through the muddy paths scattered with shrapnel and dead bodies. The rain spattered on the surface of puddles mixed with blood. Our march to the field was accompanied by the fleeting glimpse of sunlight, sadly overshadowed by the clouds of cannon smoke nearby. We thought the end was in sight, but it certainly wasn’t. A day-long battle was only just beginning.”

My eyes double in size. It can’t be, he can’t be. Is my Grandfather opening up about the untold truths of his past? This can’t be happening? This is an event that has been buried by our family for years. I am in shock yet want to discover more about the horrors of my Grandfather’s past. Imagine the riveting hand-to-hand combat, and the heroic stories, I am left wanting more!

“We began the offense. We dug the foxholes, my closest friend Jack by my side. The units back then were smaller, and more tight-knit than those of the previous war. I suppose this appealed to my young, naïve sixteen-year-old self who was told about the comradery and solidarity of war, but this would only make the battles harder to win. The fighter planes above us droned in the grey September sky, reinforcing us from above.” My Grandfather readjusts himself in his chair, bracing himself for the remainder of his story.

I close my gaping mouth as I remember where I am, still in awe of the fact my Granddad is inviting me into his past life, a teenage soldier who lived through the horrors of the frontline. How could he have kept this to himself for so long? No one will ever believe this untold story of my Grandfather’s past.

“Piercing cries of wounded men in no-man’s land caused me visceral pain. I still remember how one man beside me came down with shell shock on the second day. The hapless soul threw himself into the crossfire to escape the relentless sounds of gunfire, the cracking of rifles, and the gut-wrenching rolls of thunder from artillery– it’s like it happened just yesterday.” He gulps just thinking about the tragedy he endured. “We had to retreat, we were outnumbered from the outset.”

He continues, “With another battle added to the list of lost chances, we trekked over the muddy grass once again, reliving the nightmarish walk through the battlefield. Our heads held low, we set up camp and played a game of three cards bragging to lighten the mood. I won, of course, but Jack sure did give me a run for my money. Back then, friendship was all we had in the face of such death and destruction, constantly grasping on to the tenuous link we had to live.”

I pull myself back in my chair. I had never thought about it like that until now. These men only had each other. Their togetherness is what kept them strong.

“We rallied together once again the next day, ready to meet on the battlefield. I had only been at war for a few months, I hadn’t yet mastered the art of shutting away my emotions and feelings, compartmentalizing the harrowing sights of war. I was tireless the whole night, but Jack being his shrewd self knew exactly what to say to cheer me up. He was motivated, ready, and devoted to the war. Me? I was dispassionate about the whole thing. Men pitted against men, fighting to the death for a battle that wasn’t theirs to fight, being forced to watch fellow soldiers die before their eyes.”

I gulp slowly as I realize why my Grandfather had never mentioned his past before now. It was just too heart-wrenching to relive. Or perhaps no one had ever listened to him before. People just moved on with their lives blissfully unaffected by his war.

“The day felt cold, not like the day before. We had no rations left for the day and the morale was low. But we had to fight. Sadly, it was our duty to do so and we had to protect our nation, as promised by the propaganda plastered all over towns. The machine guns rattled, and bombs dropped from overhead - it was a game of chance. Jack was killed that day.” He doesn’t even bat an eyelid, his face is completely still. War has robbed him of all feeling. “Jack died at the hands of the enemy soldiers, who were hapless souls like us. We were set up from the very beginning, we were expendable soldiers needed to save the lives of others. Our lives forever changed, our minds forever shattered.”

He was right about that. This war had far more to it than riveting combat and glorious self-sacrifice, it was about an entire cohort of men being lost to the war. I was wrong, he was right. Grandfather was one of the lucky ones, but even he did not leave unscathed.

“I am speechless,” I say in a single breath. “I’m so glad you told me, Granddad, that takes a lot of courage.”

“You are the only one to understand the true impact of war. We have forgotten veterans with medals long since thrown away as horrid memories of a time all too present. We cannot change the past, but we can change people’s views on war, and people’s views on us. They must be more aware of the psychological damage it inflicts upon us, and less astounded by our battle scars. The stigma must end”.

And with that final sentence, the giddy guests come dancing through the doorway back through to the living room, blissfully unaware of the revelation just made.

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The Invisible One

I sit dejectedly on the sofa counting the minutes until this painful ordeal is over. The tick of the grandfather clock is muffled by the sound of cheerful guests and talkative relatives, joyous laughter and corks popping, not to mention the blaring music. I sit resentfully wondering how my mother had convinced me to come to this party, or as she liked to call it, “family-gathering”. I sit on the other side of the room, distancing myself as far away from any form of social interaction. My Grandfather sits across from me in his brocade armchair, barely saying a word. He has always kept himself to himself, as long as I have known him, anyway. I tilt my head as I try to decipher this mysterious man, my face perplexed with confusion.

“Who’s ready for lunch?” my Grandmother exclaims joyfully, followed by a cheer from the roomful of people. I think and wonder how such a lively woman could end up with such a mundane and frankly boring character. The avid party-goers stream out through the living room door and into the dining room - all except one person, that is - my Grandfather. The music fades as the playlist ends, the silence in the room becoming increasingly deafening. I look around struggling to fix my eyes in one place, distracted by the quiet in the room.

“So, how are you Granddad?”, I reluctantly ask, somewhat hoping to start a conversation, “I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

No reply. I try again.

“How are you, Granddad?”, I persist.

I wait for an answer but still nothing. His eyes are glued to the bookshelf in front of him. I give up and conclude he must be losing his hearing with age. I huff a petulant sigh and pull out my phone – my last resort at this torturous gathering. I flick grumpily through my friends’ stories, longing for freedom from this event. My eyes fall into the screen of my Instagram feed, my finger scrolling up and down the endless pages.

“I can still smell the cannon smoke hanging in the rancid air”, a low, deep voice cuts through the silence with its unmistakable tone.

I lift my head from the screen impulsively and do a double-take. I turn around and am once again startled by the low voice.

“We trudged through the muddy paths scattered with shrapnel and dead bodies. The rain spattered on the surface of puddles mixed with blood. Our march to the field was accompanied by the fleeting glimpse of sunlight, sadly overshadowed by the clouds of cannon smoke nearby. We thought the end was in sight, but it certainly wasn’t. A day-long battle was only just beginning.”

My eyes double in size. It can’t be, he can’t be. Is my Grandfather opening up about the untold truths of his past? This can’t be happening? This is an event that has been buried by our family for years. I am in shock yet want to discover more about the horrors of my Grandfather’s past. Imagine the riveting hand-to-hand combat, and the heroic stories, I am left wanting more!

“We began the offense. We dug the foxholes, my closest friend Jack by my side. The units back then were smaller, and more tight-knit than those of the previous war. I suppose this appealed to my young, naïve sixteen-year-old self who was told about the comradery and solidarity of war, but this would only make the battles harder to win. The fighter planes above us droned in the grey September sky, reinforcing us from above.” My Grandfather readjusts himself in his chair, bracing himself for the remainder of his story.

I close my gaping mouth as I remember where I am, still in awe of the fact my Granddad is inviting me into his past life, a teenage soldier who lived through the horrors of the frontline. How could he have kept this to himself for so long? No one will ever believe this untold story of my Grandfather’s past.

“Piercing cries of wounded men in no-man’s land caused me visceral pain. I still remember how one man beside me came down with shell shock on the second day. The hapless soul threw himself into the crossfire to escape the relentless sounds of gunfire, the cracking of rifles, and the blood-curdling rolls of thunder from artillery– it’s like it happened just yesterday.” He gulps just thinking about the tragedy he endured. “We had to retreat, we were outnumbered from the outset.”

He continues, “With another battle added to the list of lost chances, we trekked over the muddy grass once again, reliving the nightmarish walk through the battlefield. Our heads held low, we set up camp and played a game of three cards bragging to lighten the mood. I won, of course, but Jack sure did give me a run for my money. Back then, friendship was all we had in the face of such death and destruction, constantly grasping on to the tenuous link we had to live.”

I pull myself back in my chair. I had never thought about it like that until now. These men only had each other. Their togetherness is what kept them strong.

“We rallied together once again the next day, ready to meet on the battlefield. I had only been at war for a few months, I hadn’t yet mastered the art of shutting away my emotions and feelings, compartmentalizing the harrowing sights of war. I was tireless the whole night, but Jack being his shrewd self knew exactly what to say to cheer me up. He was motivated, ready, and devoted to the war. Me? I was dispassionate about the whole thing. Men pitted against men, fighting to the death for a battle that wasn’t theirs to fight, being forced to watch fellow soldiers die before their eyes.”

I gulp slowly as I realize why my Grandfather had never mentioned his past before now. It was just too heart-wrenching to relive. Or perhaps no one had ever listened to him before. People just moved on with their lives blissfully unaffected by his war.

“The day felt cold, not like the day before. We had no rations left for the day and the morale was low. But we had to fight. Sadly, it was our duty to do so and we had to protect our nation, as promised by the propaganda plastered all over towns. The machine guns rattled, and bombs dropped from overhead - it was a game of chance. Jack was killed that day.” He doesn’t even bat an eyelid; his face is completely still. War has robbed him of all feeling. “Jack died at the hands of the enemy soldiers, who were hapless souls like us. We were set up from the very beginning, we were expendable soldiers needed to save the lives of others. Our lives forever changed, our minds forever shattered.”

He was right about that. This war had far more to it than riveting combat and glorious self-sacrifice, it was about an entire cohort of men being lost to the war. I was wrong, he was right. Grandfather was one of the lucky ones, but even he did not leave unscathed.

“I am speechless,” I say in a single breath. “I’m so glad you told me, Granddad, that takes a lot of courage.”

“You are the only one to understand the true impact of war. We have forgotten veterans with medals long since thrown away as horrid memories of a time all too present. We cannot change the past, but we can change people’s views on war, and people’s views on us. They must be more aware of the psychological damage it inflicts upon us, and less astounded by our battle scars. The stigma must end”.

And with that final sentence, the giddy guests come dancing through the doorway back through to the living room, blissfully unaware of the revelation just made.

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Narrative Essay about My Grandfather. (2023, July 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-essay-about-my-grandfather/
“Narrative Essay about My Grandfather.” Edubirdie, 11 Jul. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-essay-about-my-grandfather/
Narrative Essay about My Grandfather. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-essay-about-my-grandfather/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
Narrative Essay about My Grandfather [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jul 11 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/narrative-essay-about-my-grandfather/
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