I don’t recall much about being a young child, but I can remember odd things like the first time I had any recollection of the furniture in my house being rearranged or when I called the fire department because my dad’s barbeque was on fire (in my defense it was flaming). One of the staples of my childhood would be when my grandma and grandad would come to visit from England. The whole day we would spend cleaning — my mom dusting and me vacuuming — in an attempt to get ready and have the house at its best. They would always arrive in the evening and be exhausted. Grandma would go to sleep pretty quickly, and grandad would sometimes have a beer and some crisps (potato chips) with my dad. The next morning, they would both be up early and I could always count on grandad doing a crossword puzzle and having a cup of coffee, and grandma sitting by the window with it slightly ajar. He’d always ask me to solve the puzzles with him, and of course I didn’t know anything except the random Disney or Nickelodeon question. If I said an answer and he didn’t know it off the top of his head he’d write it down. I wonder how many times I was actually correct. It isn’t right that I’ll never wake up to that exact sequence of events ever again.
Probably my first real memory of my grandad was the summer they came to stay with us and as a result I didn’t have to go to daycare at La Petite Academy (I hated that place). My mornings I’d spend playing with Legos or playing frisbee with my grandma in the living room with a makeshift frisbee that was actually the top to the jar of peanuts. Late mornings or early afternoons comprised mostly of walking down Paddock Drive, past Wellington Elementary School, through the now blocked off housing subdivision, and towards to “old Winne Dixie” shopping center when it was one of only two of its kind in Wellington. I’d usually get tired about halfway and I would always crouch down to stretch my legs. I loved walking through the neighborhood and holding hands with both of them. As a kid I craved that attention that they so easily gave to me and I love them deeply because of it.
They would occasionally take me to the park where we once found an old horseshoe that was kept on the porch of our house for years. I don’t know whatever happened to it, but it probably fell apart from all the weathering and rust. Both grandma and grandad would always play games — Connect Four was my favorite. If I didn’t know how to play them, they always made it a point to teach me. Chess and marbles are the two that stick in my mind at this point… for whatever reason. I really miss all that.
One time when my mom, dad, and I traveled to England for Christmas both grandma and grandad helped me build the only snowman I have ever built. I don’t remember any of the construction, but I can remember distinctly looking out of the kitchen window and seeing it sitting there in the back yard. Of course that was 17 years ago, but I wish that could be yesterday because then I’d be able to write the letter or send the fax that I always thought I could send tomorrow or next week. Something so small and more or less effortless on my part could have made his day, but for some unknown or possibly selfish reason I always put it off. I feel terrible for that, and I don’t understand why I only sparingly did nice things like that for him — Christmas cards or a hello on the telephone every couple of months.
At my graduation on April 30, 2004, he said to me, “I can’t promise I’ll make your wedding, but I’m glad I made it to your graduation.” It broke my heart when he said that because I know how proud he was of me, and I wanted him to be there for every important moment in my life. I knew he was sick, but it don’t think it sank in until this past December when I would sit holding his hand as he slept in his bed. I tried doing the daily crossword with him. This time I would write and it took all his energy to mutter the few answers he could stay awake to answer. I couldn’t get used to that role reversal… one where I was kissing his forehead, holding his hand, and writing down his crossword answers… it didn’t stop me, but it was a feeling I can’t describe. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to say goodbye to my grandad. Lynsey was with me… and we both hugged him, told him we loved him, and after a few minutes had to leave the room. In the hallway I couldn’t let go of her otherwise I thought I was going to fall apart. I probably didn’t show it, but that’s definitely how I felt.
I can’t stop the tears dripping down my face tonight… I’m lucky to have had the past 22 and a half years. And I know wherever he is that he’s happier than he was when he was sick but I can’t believe he’s gone, I just can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t believe he and I can’t create any new memories with each other. I’ll ensure I remember all the ones we’ve made.