My grandpa is probably going to die soon.
I’m in denial.
My mom sends me pictures when she visits him on the weekends and it’s hard for me to connect the man I see with the man in my memories.
He taught me how to play poker when I was 5 or 6 years old. We would sit by the fire and play cards after dinner. Then we would go to the living room and watch tv or a movie. He loved Doris Day.
Is it loves or loved? He’s alive, but his mind isn’t his anymore. His body is here, but it’s not him. Who are we without our minds, our memories?
He used to take me fishing. I learned how to put a worm on a hook and be still. He gave me a bucket hat to wear out on the boat, back before they were “cool” for like a month in middle school.
He always fell asleep in his chair in front of the tv at night, covered in a crocheted blanket.
I remember my first leading role in a musical. He brought me flowers. I think it was the first time someone ever gave me flowers.
It seemed like everyone in town knew him. People were always stopping to talk to him when we walked around town.
He loved (loves?) ice cream. My grandma would hide cartons of Neapolitan or mint chocolate chip in the basement freezer. One night, my grandma told me she knew he was getting into the ice cream at night because she would leave it facing a certain way and in the morning it would be rotated. I felt so grown up to be in on the secret.
On Sunday’s, we went to church. After church we went to Evelyn’s house. I think she was my grandpa’s cousin. We played pinochle. I love card games, but I could never get the hang of that one.
I saw my grandpa last summer. He had no idea who I was, which I expected. Anticipating and experiencing something can be incredibly different. Empirically, I knew he wouldn’t know me, but to see it, to hear it, that was much harder.
When we left, I asked for a hug. He seemed surprised, but humored me anyway. He didn’t see my tears. I knew it would probably be the last time I saw him.
Death is so hard for the living. Even when you know it’s coming. I know the cliches. Celebrate the memories. Be thankful for the time you had. He’s in a better place.
I don’t know if we will make it to the ceremony after he dies, so I’ve been spending some time intentionally remembering. I’ve been trying to hold the memories of him so filled with joy and life in my mind so they can’t slip away. Even though I know so much of him is already gone, I don’t want to say goodbye.