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  • The only kind of love at first sight I believe in is the one I had with Robert.

    I never had the opportunity to meet my grand fathers because they died before I was born. I never had any idea of what having a grand father was like. I just assumed that it was the same thing as having a grand mother who offers gifts, hugs you with love, cooks delicious meals you would die for.

    My grand mother met Robert on a cruise, he was one of my great aunt's friends. Robert had been married to a woman who died and he had children and multiple grandchildren. And even with that, Robert never had a family, because nobody would call him or make sure he was doing good, nobody will remember that he loved brussels sprouts.

    Robert never had an easy life, he was from a modest family, was forced to work in Germany during World War II. He never complained about anything, built houses with his bare hands. He married a woman, had children with her but never had the happiness he deserved. His wife's death divided his family: it was the others against Robert.
    They all forgot that he built them a roof, they all forgot he gave them a life.

    I met Robert when I was six (I believe). I don't really remember but he told me I did not even say hello because I did not like him. I spent my holidays in his chalet because my grandma and him became friends. From that very moment, everything changed; we would play cards for hours, he would be mad because I would always win; we would watch stupid and boring tv shows, I would read him my journal and we would go in the snow, he would watch me play.

    Robert was seventy-something, I was six, we became friends.

    As my Grandma and him were living on their own, they decided to stay together, and I would see Robert more and more often, go on vacation to his chalet. Robert was part of our family and I considered him from the day we met, as my grandfather.
    Soon they got married, which was the biggest surprise of the year because I could witness my grandparents' wedding but also because that was exactly what I wanted to happen for a few years. I was nine.

    Naturally, in a way I cannot even explain because I have no idea how it happened, Robert and I developed a unique relationship. We were talking for hours about anything, I was dancing on disco music with a wig and a sparkly shirt on, we picked snails and observed them; he fixed my stuffed animal, I would talk to him on the phone calling him "my little chicken" (I will always remember my father's face when he heard me calling Robert, a very conservative man, "my little chicken").

    What changed is that I actually had Robert with me for Christmas and every single one he would give me money with a little card "for my little ballerina, Robert". I kept all of them, took them with me in Canada.

    One day Robert was diagnosed having an illness very close to the alzheimer's disease, the difference was that he would forget a lot and remember everything again suddenly for awhile, and then, forget a lot more than he did before. It broke my heart.
    At the beginning you think that it happens to everyone else's family, that it cannot happen to yours, and you are convinced that even if the doctor said so, you'll find a way so it won't happen. But it happened; Soon he had to go to a specialized place, I visited him and thought that he was not doing that bad, we were still having fun, saying silly things and making bad jokes. One day, when my grandma decided to take care of him in her house, I came into his room. He was facing the window which has a view on the church of his town. He asked me why they were men on the roof and why they were mean; I looked at the window, there was nobody on the roof. I answered "they are fixing it, but look they are saying hello", he looked at the church and said "oh yes you're right, they are". At this very moment I understood he was sick, and that there were nothing to do but love him.

    Soon after, my parents visited him and refused me to come because they did not want me to see him like that so I could keep the last moment I had with him as my last memory; later that day, my father called me, Robert had passed away. I did not manage to cry even though I was extremely sad. I was 16.

    Not even a week later, we were preparing the funerals; my sister and I decided to write a speech. When we arrived at a small church there were only a few people, and his biological family did not even come. We stood in front of everyone, I read the first word and nothing could come out of my mouth as I was shaking and crying. The church was too small, I did not even know the people who came, only my family; why a man like that would be regretted by such a few amount of people? My sister tried to read the end but it was not possible, nobody heard what we had to say about him.

    I regret nobody heard what we thought, how we felt. But I don't regret I didn't say good bye, or didn't tell him how much I loved him, because I showed him every time I saw him; I know he did not like when I touched his tv or his controler, I know he didn't like when I put the wooden knives in the dishwasher, I know he liked to eat snails, salmon, brussels sprouts and I know at what time he would take a nap. I know my parents, my sister, my grandma and I gave him a real family, a family he never raised but that loved him for how amazing he was.
    Robert never became my grandpa, he always was; we chose to build this relationship, we loved each other for years, and I still love him. I think about him all the time. We weren't from the same background, he had an entire life behind him whereas I was starting mine, we never shared the same blood, had nothing in common but humor and the love of cards' games, but we loved each other like a family, like a grandpa and his little girl. I did not say goodbye, because it was never a "goodbye", but only a "see you later". It was love at first sight.
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