I am remembering him but he is not gone.
The reality is, though, that he is becoming more and more gone with each passing day. Each day his fragile brain works hard to stay with us and many days it betrays him. Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease are brutal on their own. Together they are cruel and unforgiving.
The man that I know sings hymns and Broadway show tunes. The man that I know has a strong embrace and a gentle voice. He looks you in the eye and listens to you. He's goofy and his laugh is as hilarious as whatever it is that produces it. Aw..his laugh is awesome. He is a presence and a force.
Sometimes it is hard to reconcile that with the reality of this Winter of his life. Even still, he is my amazing grandfather. I am well aware of how lucky I am that I got to have him this long. I am even more aware of how blessed my life is because he is still in it. I love him. I know that he loves me, even if sometimes he cannot remember my name.
I will remember for the both of us.
I remember laying my head on his lap and watching the Simon & Garfunkel concert in Central Park. He loves the falsetto of Art Garfunkel. I remember the really bad perm he got in the 80's. I remember the big grill he stood watch over while we swam in the pool. I remember horseshoes and our first ever slip-n-slide. I remember his sideburns and how he used to always sit on the same side of the big couch. I can recall the smell of their house depending on which season it was.
I can see him at the plate with the big red wiffle ball bat in the side yard. I see him holding my newborn baby and I recall bouncing on his knee as he sang the completely hilarious song, "I'm a me mow mow and I'm gonna kiss a cow". I see him playing records and singing. I see him dancing with me at my wedding. I see him baptizing all of the babies in our family. I see him loving everyone. Everyone.
I see him marrying us. Five and a half years ago. He stumbled just a little bit with his memory. His hand would shake ever so slightly. It was the beginning of what would be the slow and painful process of two neurological diseases loose in his body.
I remember the story my mama told me about the day I was born. She tells me that when he found out that I was his first granddaughter she heard him exclaim "YEEEEEEE-HAWWWW!" from the hallway. That story always makes me smile.
He is not gone and for that I am so grateful. There is more to say. There are more kisses to give. There are more jokes to tell. There is more life. There is more time. But I'd be a fool to say that we have plenty of time. We don't.
So I have to go. Plum and I are heading out to see her great-grandpa because today he is here and today is a gift.