My pawpaw passed away in September 2013. He’s missed a lot since then. The birth of my brother, Aiden happened almost a year after his death. He didn’t see or won’t see any of my siblings and my graduations. He missed the birth of my cousins, Zoe and Naomi. He didn’t even see his eldest child, my uncle, get married. Fortunately, he missed the global pandemic that has been going on lately so lucky him. But even though he couldn’t see these events happen in person, he’s the one that made it all happen besides COVID of course. His passing influenced many parts of my life that I am very thankful for now. Today, I’m writing a tribute to my deceased pawpaw, also known as my grandpa.
My pawpaw’s name was Leroy Dawson. My brother’s name is Aiden Leroy Dawson. My mom and dad didn’t intend on having another kid after having me but my pawpaw’s passing left an empty spot in our house. An empty role, yearning to be fulfilled. But we knew grandma could never find someone to take that place. We simply wouldn’t allow her to do so with any other man. So my mom and dad decided to have another kid to try to fill the vacant void in our home. So had my pawpaw not passed, I wouldn’t have my younger brother there to hug me when I’m sad, to have sleepovers with when it’s hot in his room, and to educate when he needs to be educated. Just like my pawpaw did with me.
Aiden is my pawpaw reincarnated. I don’t believe in reincarnation but Aiden sleeps, sits, eats, and even looks like pawpaw. Aiden and pawpaw don’t really look alike when you first glance but they have the same face, Aiden’s is just a little lighter. They both lift their eyebrows in a suspicious way. Aiden has certain ways to eat certain things just like pawpaw. Aiden sits with his legs crossed at the knees when he is playing Fortnite or Roblox on the game just like pawpaw did when he would be playing the Sudoku game that came in the newspaper everyday with his black, rectangular, glasses on. Aiden also wears rectangular glasses but his are usually more decorated with cars on them and stuff as such. Aiden is my pawpaw and my brother and you couldn’t convince me otherwise.
I probably would have struggled a lot more without my pawpaw. He was there every step of the way until he couldn’t be there anymore. He’d help me learn the alphabet, learning my numbers and whatever else I came to him with. He was my motivator when things got hard. He stayed with me during late nights and early mornings. He grabbed me from the other side of my baby gate so we could eat apples and peanut butter or whenever we were both still up past who knows what. He still is. Instead of him being there physically, I know he is here and always will be here mentally and emotionally. I don’t remember much about him because he passed away when I was about 5-6 years old but what I do remember will never be forgotten. I will not take what I am blessed with for granted because now that my pawpaw isn’t here, I realize that I didn’t spend as much time with him when I grew older as I should have. I couldn’t say goodbye properly and I regret it as I should’ve spent more time with and around him. I do whatever is within my ability to make my pawpaw proud; and because of him, me and my family are who we are today.
Aerise Dawson – GCE Lab School – DMSF Class of 2026