When I was 15, my grandfather – my mother’s father – died. That whole year had already been filled with all this angst over things I really didn’t have a need to be angry about, but when he died, I was mad at the world. Then my grandmother found a poem in his Bible. Before this point, I had always written poems. For four years I had kept a five-subject, spiral-bound notebook with poems – terrible, sappy, teeny-bopper love poems for the most part, but still my poems – and I actually still have the book today. At times, I would write at least one a day for a couple of weeks.
Occasionally, I would take something I’d written to school for my friends to read. They would fawn over me and beg me to write one for them. I was more than happy to oblige, enjoying all the attention. Before my grandfather’s death, however, these were just poems. I had bigger plans. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I got a guitar for my 13th birthday and took lessons, and I planned on moving to New York when I was 18 to pursue my dream.
For a while after my grandfather’s death, my world stopped. He was only 58 years old; we were supposed to have more time with him. It was the first time I lost something that I took for granted, and I was devastated. When my grandmother shared the poem she found in his Bible, the whole family was surprised. None of us ever knew him to write. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help the family, and he didn’t get his GED until he was in his early fifties. The poem was a simple but heartfelt prayer for God to help him show others how good life can be as a Christian.
Seeing that poem and the one I found later in another Bible that my mom kept, I realized that someone else in my family had the desire and a basic ability to express himself through writing, and everything clicked into place. My writing wasn’t a fluke; there was a source. I scratched plans for New York because I knew that I had to write.