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Teen essay contest winner reflects on importance of grandparents

By JR Ortega
Oct. 5, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.
Updated Oct. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

Trevor Werner, 13, of Spring, hugs his grandmother, Nelda Smith, as he and his family celebrate her birthday Saturday at her Victoria home. Trevor won the "Favorite memory about grandparents" with an essay he wrote about his grandfather, who died in 2010. On Saturday, he gave the gift card he received as a prize for the contest to his grandmother for her birthday.

For a 13-year-old, Trevor Werner has a lot to say.

And though some may find it easier to talk about their feelings, the Spring teenager chooses a more silent approach, using the written word - especially when it comes to talking about "Papa."

Trevor won a $100 Regal Jewelers gift card in the Victoria Advocate's "Favorite memory about grandparents," essay contest with his tribute to his grandfather, Terry L. Smith, who died Oct. 9, 2010, when Trevor was 10 years old. Smith lived in Victoria.

"That night, I thought about all the good memories I enjoyed and cherished with him," Trevor wrote. "I cried through the night until I ran out of tears."

Now three years later, the hurt has lessened, but Trevor wants to make sure others remember to cherish their grandparents.

"I felt that it was easy for me to remember because it's only been three years," Trevor said in a phone interview. "I thought I had some good ideas to write about."

Trevor's essay talks about the memories and traditions with his grandfather - or "Papa," as Trevor called him - such as making trips to Dairy Treet in Victoria for a four-piece chicken strip basket.

But beyond the essay, he said, was a man with a deep passion for Christ, a man who was once an avid hunter until he decided to stop killing God's creatures.

His "Papa" was a man who was an overall good person, he added, and he just wanted to share that with everyone.

"I'm guessing most people who voted lost their grandparents," Trevor said, trying to figure out what set apart his essay from other submissions.

Trevor's mother, Beverly, who was born and raised in Victoria, was brought to tears when she first read the essay.

She had no idea her son was writing an essay, but moreover, she had no idea just how much of an influence her father left on her son.

"What made it best for me was that I knew what my dad meant to us, and to see it in words from one of his grandchildren was like, 'Wow, what an impact he's made,'" she said, crying.

Trevor's mother described her father as a religious man who retired from Central Power and Light Retail Energy after many years.

He was a deacon at Northside Baptist Church, where he attended many years with his wife, Nelda, who he was married to for 53 years.

"My dad was a special guy," she said.

On Saturday, the family surprised Nelda Smith with a party for her 75th birthday. Trevor wants to make sure not to miss another moment.

"The traditions have become more important," he said. "We try to pretend like he's still here, and we still keep him in our hearts."



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