For several months now I’ve been eating bananas and cheerios. Sometimes I’d crave them but most of the time I would just want the taste of a memory.
My Grandpa reaches into the cabinet for the cheerios, the bowls already on the table, milk waiting to be poured, spoons placed lightly in the center.
Maybe we’ll split a banana between us or save a half for Grandma or Dan, leaving it on the counter with plastic wrapped around the end.
Quiet moments conjure up in my now almond milk, about a quiet man, a man I felt I watched slip away.
Even when you know the inevitable is bound to happen, probably soon, nothing will ever prepare you.
With alzheimers the memories falter, become confused, and sometimes are lost for good. But music from my grandparents’ era struck whistling chords in my grandfather’s throat (and an occasional tap of the foot).
Ever since I was young my Grandpa would make me feel special. My Grandma would occasionally tell me to ask my Grandpa how I looked and he would always smile and say:
“Gorgeous, simply gorgeous.”
When I want to hear his voice again, my mind easily replays that phrase in my mind. Others memories pop up now and again too, like one where my brother, mom, and I were sitting at the kitchen table with him one afternoon.
My Grandma had just said something to my Grandpa and left the room. I asked my Grandpa in a jesting way how he put up with her and he said, “Easy. I ignore her.” We all laughed our asses off.
Grandpa always had a sharp, quick-pointed wit. Whenever he would have pork he would get a couple of nails and gently place them next to his place. If anyone asked, he’d say they were for his coffin.
Something I never really thought of until I got older was how incredible my grandparents’ relationship was, especially given the time they were raised in. My grandparents always treated each other as equals and had mutual respect for one another.
I am fortunate to have such an astounding foundation for a family and lucky enough to witness the effects of a true lasting love such as theirs.
Our family is Italian, so we always kiss and hug whenever we see each other. My last goodbye with Grandpa was no exception.
I was still quite ill with mono, and we’d already extended my stay a bit due to that. In hindsight, those extra days were a blessing for me.
My Grandpa said my name for the first time in a few weeks and when we hugged goodbye he hugged back a bit harder than he had been.
I thought about turning to say goodbye to my Grandpa once more, as he had already sat back in his chair. He’d already said he loved me and had turned his attention to Matlock, I could tell even with my back turned.
A lump hit my throat and I had an inkling that this would be the last time I saw him. I wanted one more look and now I have a crisp image of him – his right profile and body leaning on the arm of his chair, glasses peering over his nose, feet on the ground watching a show we both enjoyed.
I wanted to say something to him, but there was nothing more to say as Grandpa had always showed his love for me, for all of us. with every “I love you” whispered hug, every shared banana, every little joke, every whistled tune, every “gorgeous, simply gorgeous”, and every single wry smile.
To have love and share love is an incredible act. Love is how my Grandfather touched so many lives.
I will always be grateful for Grandpa teaching me the value of hard work and education, but most of all in his own quiet way he subtly taught me more about love than I ever realized.