It'sbeen almost a year, and we are still sent mail with his address. I have grown soused to this that I can tell which they are before I even look. There are lettersand magazines of all shapes and sizes advertising cars, credit cards and varioushousehold products. There are impersonal letters, too, sent by his bank orcreditors, with big red stamps notifying the world that the address given nolonger has anyone living there. But now, when there is a "Send to ForwardingAddress" letter in the pile of mail, it is usually from his lawyer. That isthe hardest part about walking down the driveway to the mailbox: I don't knowwhat I will find.
My granddad died last February. It happened on the lastday of vacation, the fastest, yet slowest, vacation I ever had. My sister and Istayed home while my parents flew to New York to go to the hospital where mygranddad lay and where he would eventually pass away. My granddad didn't want hisgranddaughters to see him like that so we were left at home, jumping every timethe phone rang.
How was I supposed to say good-bye to him? My parentstold me to write a note telling him what I had been doing and how school was; hehad always been interested in my academics. So that was what I did. I wrote as ifeverything were normal, as if he were not lying in a hospital bed.
Icouldn't just send an ordinary letter! This was going to be the last time I wouldcommunicate with him. There were so many things I had always wanted to tell himbut never did. I wanted him to know how much I respected him for emigrating withmy dad and aunts from England and working so many jobs so they could livecomfortably and get a good education. I wanted him to know how amazing it wasthat he was offered a fellowship at Princeton, and how admirable it was when heturned it down because he put his family first.
I wanted him to know howspecial it was that he was a bombardier in World War II and had survived beingshot down into the ocean, drifting for days until he was rescued. I could go onlisting all the extraordinary things my granddad did, and it was hard not to inthat letter.
Once I was done, I sent it overnight to the hospital. Therest of the day, and into that night, I worried that it would arrive too late.Then I got a phone call from my dad. He had gotten the letter and read it to mygranddad. According to my father, the letter had had a great effect on him andeveryone who overheard it. My granddad's eyes had filled with tears, and he hadclearly been moved by what I had written.
I am so glad that I finally toldhim how I felt.
A few days later the phone rang, but this time I didn'tjump. It was over. My granddad had lost his battle.
The "Send toForwarded Address" letters started appearing a few weeks after my parentsreturned home. And they still come; every few days or so, a letter will stick outwith that telltale stamp. That is the hardest part of walking down the drivewayto the mailbox: I don't know what to expect. I hate sifting through the piles andseeing the letters with my granddad's name. But at the same time, I dread the daythose letters stop coming.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.