Four weeks ago today, I watched you breathe your last. In the moments that followed, I somehow managed to do something I had never done before: pray with my brother and my aunt over you. As painful as it was, to watch you struggle for hours just to breathe and then to subsequently watch you relax once and for all, it was beautiful. Not in my entire lifetime had I ever seen you so calm – not grunting in pain while shuffling in your seat or cursing at the TV because the Blazers blew another fourth quarter lead. To know that you had finally found such a deep relaxation before you passed along to another world, with your closest family and friends seeing you one last time, it was beautiful. And with my brother, I cried the hardest I have ever cried feeling the weight of your passing.
Seeing as I can no longer call you to update you on life, I figured I’d write. So you better stop smooching on grandma long enough to read… please. I got into a car accident on my way back to Tigard after we loaded the stuff from your apartment into a storage unit. Don’t worry; it wasn’t my fault. I had stopped at a crosswalk when a rather large truck (not a semi) slammed into the back of my car. I had hoped the mechanics would be able to fix it, but they apparently weren’t, so yes, it was totaled. Insurance has been helping out as much as they can, but unfortunately I have some negative equity heading into my next car purchase, which will hopefully be within the next couple of days. But don’t worry, my finances have been as good as they have ever been, thanks to you. I will be okay.
In other news, there is a girl I’ve been seeing for a few weeks. Furthermore, I have a list of witnesses to her existence so that you will know she is not a figment of my imagination. We don’t really know where it’s going, but we’re enjoying where we are and talking to each other every day. Unfortunately, due to our schedules, we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like, but we have been able to hang out almost twice a week. You’d like her, Grandpa.
All my grades from Spring semester have come out; all A’s. Even though I watched more TV than my fair share this semester, I somehow managed to pull out a 4.0. I’m only taking four credits this summer semester so as to allow a little more time to breathe and enjoy a bit of life. I’ll also be working, as I told you before, roughly 20 hours a week transcribing Ethiopic manuscripts. Monday was my first day and yesterday my second. It’s actually a very fun gig and I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer. I’ve also already signed up for my fall classes, but they haven’t been finalized as of yet. There are a couple classes I might want to take in stead of the ones I’m currently signed up for. I’ll let you know, though.
I didn’t get a chance to tell you this when you were in the hospital, but I really did cherish the role of being your interpreter. We all knew that you hated having to work so hard for each word only not to be misunderstood, so for me to have a hand in helping you… it just means the world to me, Grandpa. And yes, every bit of what I told you is true: you showed me a kind of an adopting love that echoes that of God’s. Despite being nearly 60 years younger than you, you welcomed us in, gave us our own beds, showered us with toys and Legos that our friends still envy us for, and paid for us to go to school, play sports, and try our hands at anything and everything we could – in as much as you could afford. When the world dealt us a crappy hand, you slipped us a few aces and taught us how to play them. You gave us a better chance in life than anybody else ever could have. That, Grandpa, resembles the God I know and love.
I still have all your most recent voicemails – as many as I could keep. And yes, I’ve deleted everyone else’s messages before I even considered deleting yours. Hearing your voice has always been, and always will be, a reminder of home – a place where bills, car troubles, schoolwork, and even the side effects of being fatherless didn’t matter. All that mattered in your house were Skip-Bo, Cribbage, sharing good food, and having a good laugh. No matter how shitty life becomes for me in the future, I will always have your voice to remind me of the things that really matter – being together with people you love.
I cannot believe it has been four weeks – I really can’t. What I can believe, however, is that all you had taught us will not go to waste. We will still say “Thank you” to every server in every restaurant we visit – even if they only hold the door for us. We will still do all that we can for our guests to make them feel as at-home and comfortable as they possibly could. And we will still place games with our families above the demands of our jobs. You may not have known you were teaching us all those things, but there is no doubt in my mind that they came from you.
As I told you the day you passed, you were more than a father to me – more than I had ever asked or dreamed of. As my brother and I were the sons you never had, you were the father we never had. You were the answer to our prayers before we had the chance to pray them. Everything we have, all that we are, and all that is to come is only possible because of the chance you gave us. Because you first loved us, we will love those around us.
Finally, I come to the most important matter. You better be practicing your Cribbage game because when I join you, I will have no mercy. You old hag…
Your second (grand)son,