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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Honoring my grandfather allowed me to rediscover my own passions in life

Anneli Larson
From left, Anneli Larson struts in style with her pink cowgirl hat and her sister, brother and grandpa on his farm back in 2011 in Grass Valley, Calif. They are helping with the daily chores and taking turns driving the tractor.

Looking back at my childhood, I realized my favorite memories came from my grandpa’s farm up in the hills of Grass Valley, CA. My entire personality was shaped around this farm. 

I have always had a deep passion for nature and being outside, and I can only trace it back to him and his beloved home. I wanted to grow up and be like my grandpa, building my house from the ground up and tending to my many animals. 

As a child, I eagerly anticipated the days my parents would say, “We’re visiting Grandpa!” I’d hurriedly put on my little flannels and cowboy boots – carefully selecting a pair that I deemed worthy. On the drive up, I would stare out the window and recount each landmark that indicated how close we were. 

At the end of his long, twisty driveway, my grandpa would await the arrival of my siblings and me, who would run and jump on him as soon as my parents parked the car. 

Our days were spent helping him feed the animals, drive the tractor, and tend to the garden. At the end of the day, we would sit on his deck overlooking his 15 acre farm, and he would indulge in whatever horse book I would bring. As I read, his over-exaggerated interest filled me with joy. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that for the last couple of years of his life, my grandpa was fighting esophageal cancer. 

From left, Anneli Larson balances on the fence with her siblings, Grace and Teo, and grandparents in 2011 in Grass Valley, Calif. (Anneli Larson)

In his final years, he remained the strong, lively man I had known my entire childhood. Losing him – my hero and idol – was the first time I had experienced the weight of grief. My passion for farming and animals dwindled over the years because it felt wrong not to share it with my grandpa. Plus, we stopped visiting the farm. 

Facing that grief at 7 years old deeply impacted my life. For a very long time, I didn’t want to look at anything that reminded me of my grandpa because the weight of the memories would crush me. 

As I got older, however, I came to terms with that grief and realized that avoiding the reminder of his death was avoiding the reminder of him as a whole. 

To ignore that pain was to ignore everything good, because I wouldn’t have grieved that loss if I didn’t love him and the memories he gave me as a child. 

My grandpa is an essential character in the shaping of who I am today. Overcoming grief not only helped me regain my love for nature and animals, but also taught me not to take my memories of him, or anyone else for granted.

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