He Hated My Name

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He hated my name. My family never knew why, but he hated the name Whitney. He wished for my name to be Nicole, which led to that becoming my middle name. To this day I always think about telling everyone to call me Nicole. He was the first man I ever trusted, besides my father, and he still is one of the few men I do trust. He loves me; after all, I am his granddaughter, sometimes.

He has a disease that causes his mind to drift. He doesn’t remember his own wife half the time; I don’t know why I expected or hoped for him to remember me when I went to see him. My dad held his right hand, my grandmother held his left as they walked him in to see me for the first time in four months. His bones protruded through his skin. I never saw him that thin before. His muscles turned into excess skin that hung off his arm as if it could fall off at any given time. His skin sunk in at his jaw line and I could tell that his teeth no longer occupied his mouth. His hair was buzzed, leaving only white peach fuzz on the top of his head. He no longer looked like my grandfather, his face was one of a strangers. He looked like he would have when he was in World War II, but Alzheimer’s was his war now.

They sat him down in a room where full length windows gave the room a bright feeling. Without a glance to me, my grandfather hung his head for at least a half hour. It was almost like he was ashamed. When your mind is in the clouds and you have no worries, what is there possibly to be ashamed of? Suddenly, he started tracing my palm, noticing every line and every detail. His fingers fell through the space between my fingers like sand. He just sat there, holding this strange little girl’s hand. Although I was practically a stranger to him, a strong man wouldn’t have been able to pry his hand away from mine. I stood up, still holding his hand and we went for a walk to try to wake him up a bit. As his feet walked with a mind of their own, he gazed at the floor with no care in the world. He stared at the deserted gift shop that never seemed to be open and the different rooms as if he had never seen them before.
When we returned to my family, he did not want to sit down. He looked at me so tenderly. There was something beaming from his eyes. His eyes looked at me with a grandfather’s softness. They played with mine, searching for memories that we had shared. He started to play with my hair twisting it around his frail fingers examining the faint color through his almost blind eyes. I took his hand and twirled myself around as if we were dancing like we used to. He grew accustomed to this and started smiling and spinning me around on his own. As he hummed tunes from the past that were foreign to his mind, I felt like I knew my grandfather again. I felt like he was his neat, gentle, loving self who always had a knack for saying the wittiest things.
All too soon, it was time for me to leave. My family and I walked my grandfather to his room, but he stayed outside in the hallway. He gave my father and mother a hug and my grandmother a kiss. It was my turn. I thought I was going to choke on my lungs. He put his arms around me and just held me. His arms told me everything was going to be okay like he used to, they told me that he was happy. He planted a million soft delicate kisses on my cheeks as I felt tears swelling up in my eyes. I was his little girl again. Although, he didn’t remember my name, that’s okay, he didn’t like it anyway.





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