I walked through the house last month. Strangers were rooting through our memories. I thought that I would be ok. For the hour drive over I kept explaining to the kids what we were about to do. Obviously, I mean, duh, I was explaining to myself. I was attempting to tell myself that I was ok. That all would be well.
When we arrived, Pants and Plum were running around the house because they were at once comfortable being there and out of sorts with the strange vibe. I tried to explain to them that you didn't live there anymore and that these things were just things. I told them that you were happy to be safe and sound at your new home. Pants calls it the castle apartment. Assisted living never seemed so glamorous then when described by a 5 yr-old, right? Especially when "assisted living" turned to "special care" so damn quick.
My breath quickened pulling up the drive. So many cars. So many strangers. I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to tell them you were not gone. I wanted to cause a scene. My heart....it was un-reparable. Broken. My heart, god damn, my heart CRIED.
I pulled my babies into the bathroom to breathe through the panic. The desperation. The urge to scream at the vultures to get the fuck out of your house and stop taking your things for money. I breathed. I cried. And in your bathroom I explained to my children, your great grand-babies, why I was so terribly and suddenly sad.
"Grandpa's things are precious. And I want to gather some things, ok? Mama is so very sad today. Please, babies, just stay close, ok? If you are good, we will go get some ice cream, ok? Stay close to mama. We are almost done"
Leaving the bathroom, I RAN about the house gathering up everything I saw that might have meant something to everyone I know. As strangers approached the man standing in your kitchen taking money for your things, I ran about making piles and grabbing your flags and blankets and trinkets and a bag of unused night lights from Good Housekeeping. Those dang night lights were always in use and now I know how to get more when I need them. Of course they are from Good Housekeeping. Hilarious. Well played, Grams.
As I began loading things into my car, I noticed your file cabinet in the garage. The tears came hard, hot and fast. There it was. That silly little rainbow magnet. It was a beacon. I ran to it as though it was a million dollars. I grabbed it so fast as though others were fighting me for it.
Of course they were not. It was a silly little magnet. Simply made. Nothing special. No one could see the value in it. Well, unless they grew up seeing it. And unless it held for them all the memories of years gone by. Unless they knew that I ran by that silly magnet every time I played at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Unless they saw that that magnet meant everything.
For years, you held my hand, hugged me when I was sad, held me when I rejoiced, tucked me in when I needed comfort, prayed for me when I didn't know how to pray for myself. You baptized me. You married us. You sang Simon and Garfunkel to me as I drifted off to sleep. You grasped my hand and encouraged me to jump. You made me laugh through tears. You sang silly songs to me and tickled my neck. You mussed my hair and made goofy jokes to make me laugh.
You smiled. The smile that spoke a thousand words. When you smiled, it was with your eyes. Your smile said to me, "It's ok, little one. You are loved". There was no misunderstanding your love. You wore it proud and loud. Your love was...immense.
And it still is.
As I hold your hand, I remember all the ways that you held mine. And Grandpa? Even though you don't remember my name, I pray that you are comforted by my smiling face. As I hide the pain I feel for you and replace it with a wide and loving smile so that you feel at ease. The same wide and loving smile you gave to me as if to say "You are safe, my darling". I smile this smile for you. I smile it to see your eyes light up in recognition. Hoping that even though you cannot say the words, you know. Hoping that when you see my smile and hear my cheery voice, inside you know who I am. And you know that you are safe with me.
Grandpa, I will hold your hand through to the end. I will be there when you don't know who I am. I will be there for when, for just a second, you remember me. I will be there. I will be there because you are the first of a short list of amazing men in my life. And you are loved beyond the moon and stars.
I will be there.
And I promise not to let my hand slip out from yours. No matter how numb or sweaty it may become. I will hold your hand, grandpa. I will hold your hand.
I'm glad you are here. Thank you for reading. I'd love it if you came over to the Facebook page community and gave us a "like". There you'll be treated to the best conversations between Pants and Plum and a bunch of other stuff. If you prefer Twitter, you'll find me tweeting parenting shiz, my brand of humor and even the more serious stuff that gets me going.
Oh and If you like what you read, feel free to share it with others! Thank you for supporting the blog. I'd kiss you if I could.
xoxo, Mama Pants