My grandfather was an artist. He used to paint masterpieces, and draw all the time. He taught as a professor in Russia and all across Europe during the times after he survived being a soldier.
All of my grandparents have passed except for on my mother's side, all that remains is my grandmother. And in fact, it was my grandfather on my mother's side who was the artist.
He passed when I was still a kid. I didn't exactly comprehend it. We flew over to Europe when his condition worsened. He still smiled, made jokes, despite not being able to properly hear, and not exactly quite being mentally there. Of course I didn't quite understand the severity at that time. I was a kid, how could I comprehend. I didn't spend much time with him even though he loved me.
I remember when he used to find my doodles of army stickmen warring with each other and he'd add his own little edits being the artist he was. Giving them helmets, rifles, drawing fighter jets and explosions. I never really saw it as much of a big deal.
Before he passed, he had been losing his drawing ability to Alzheimer's slowly. A few months before he passed, before I had to fly back to Toronto when summer was ending to attend school, he drew me a picture of a soldier. It was a rather messy drawing. More like a quick pencil sketch. It was a wounded soldier, limping, rifle in hand, bandages, wearing what resembled a ghillie suit.
Didn't think much of it at the time, but now I realize what it took to do that simple little drawing, and how happy he was to do it. I still wish I had some of his drawings, and I want to try to look for that last soldier drawing he did before he passed.
I still have some regret that I was young and didn't understand. He passed in his sleep one night. It was better off that he died peacefully. He needed someone to literally lift him off the couch, and he couldn't even walk anymore, just very slowly inch his way, and shuffle across the floor.