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The Great Paw Paw

Student Model Print

Charlotte, the seventh-grade writer of this model, organizes her essay into paragraphs that describe different aspects of her subject. The closing leaves the reader with a clear idea of the important place her grandfather holds in her memory.

The Great Paw Paw

Memory. The dictionary defines it as the mental ability to recall past experiences. We think of it as that picture we saw, the words she said. Who in your life is so vivid in your memory that you could describe him or her without a second thought? For me, it’s my grandpa. But when I was small, I couldn’t say “Grandpa,” so 13 years ago, Theodore Lazarus became Paw Paw.

To all the grandkids, Paw Paw was full of fun and games. We all remember his favorite expressions, the ones that would pop out each time we saw him. Luckily, we visited Paw Paw quite often. We often overheard his little squabbles. “No way, José!” Paw Paw would yell; in response, we would shout back, “Yes way, José!” and burst into giggles. My younger siblings and cousins would tell Paw Paw about school, or ballet, or baseball, or their pet iguana, and just when they got into the story, he’d roar, “No kiddin’!” with a huge smile on his face. Paw Paw helped us remember that life should be fun.

Being the oldest of all the grandchildren, I remember more than my siblings and cousins do, but we all remember how predictable Paw Paw’s clothes would be. Most likely, he’d be wearing a white cotton shirt under another shirt, which was the kind that is red or blue, has one or two breast pockets, is plaid or striped, with buttons down the front. Being loose, it covered his big, round belly. He’d be sitting in the tall wooden chair in the corner by his desk, shouting into the black telephone with the big buttons. Or, if he wasn’t there, he’d be in his black leather recliner, watching a game on TV. Sometimes he’d let us snuggle next to him.

When Paw Paw wasn’t relaxing, he’d be in the backyard garden, weeding and pulling, planting and potting, until the time came in the spring or summer when the garden came alive with the colors of the flowers and vegetables he raised. I remember his old, worn hands that did everything: built the wooden tree house for me to play in, built the toolshed, plugged in the Barbie car so it would be ready for me to ride when I came over, fixed the DVD player so I could watch “Wee Sing,” and just played blocks with his grandchildren. He always took time to play with us.

He would never tell us, but I know he was proud of all his nine grandkids. We ranged in age from 1-12 when he died last summer of a severe stroke. When I remember Paw Paw now, I think of the pictures on Grandmother’s cabinet—pictures of me and Paw Paw when I was two years old and the only grandchild. In one picture, we’re lying on the bed, me in my flowered pajamas, him in his usual outfit. I had my bottle in one hand, the Sunday comics in the other (upside down!). He was reading the comics to me so we could laugh together. I will remember that for the rest of my life, and I will remember that he always loved me.

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