I’m Talking to Heaven

March 15, 2008
There comes a point in your life, where you need to realize how important a life truly is. When you live, it feels like you’re an immortal human being. It feels like you can conquer the world and change someone’s life. It feels as if, you can be a hero.

Sometimes I wish I could fly. Fly towards what is beautiful. Fly away from what is terrifying. And just flying, flying would be amazing. When hearing someone just died, you can’t fly. You can’t move. You can’t say a word. You can just sit there and thinking about the person engrained into your memory. And all you have is that picture. That one photograph that takes you on so many places, that you feel infinite.

It started with a photography class I had. There was something about that class that inspired me to write this. To feel these feelings that I truly never felt before, and I felt amazing to write this because I feel as if I am a hero. I feel as if I am immortal with my words.
So here I sit, writing these words that can be striking and powerful. That can affect you in some way, or no way at all. But here I am, for a purpose. Images that are detailed, words that are powerful, and tears that conjured in my eyes thinking of my grandfather. Tears those are happy because the world isn’t so great all the time. But I know deep inside, that the images in my mind will pass on as I go and move along in my life. Even if I do have images on the walls of my home, and on the tables, I have these words that are my own. Words that are simply as priceless as a photograph that is worth a million words. And this, this is for my grandfather. I love him. I still will always even if he isn’t with me today. I’ve grown and stretched my mind through the power of art. Through this, I’ve learned to be the master of my own mind. Through this I am an artist because of my grandfather. This is for everything he has done for me. For grandpa Sam showing me life and art in its beauty.
The last time I saw him was in his hospital bed, in his room. My grandma was sitting by his side, and they were smiling at me. I loved his smile, it was a warm smile. I was holding a latex glove in my hand, and I stuck my hand in it, and blew a bit into it so it wouldn’t stick so much. I told him I was his doctor, and that I would make everything okay. I kissed him goodbye that day. That was the last day I saw him.
Honestly, the last days my grandfather lived, I didn’t see him. He didn’t want us to see him in the stage he was. He always resembled something powerful to me. He was eighty-three, well, we’d like to think that because he was just a few days away from his eighty third birthday. Everytime I look at something that resembles him, I smile.

He was a lung cancer patient. He is still alive, alive in me. I mostly have his personality. My grandfather loved life. He didn’t want to die. The doctors told us he should have died a month before his actual death but he held on. They told my mom and grandmother that if they were to carry him home in the ambulance, that he wouldn’t make it. My grandfather wanted to be home, and that was final. He made it home, and my mother told me how glad he was. He was dancing when he came home. He actually got up with his weak legs, and started dancing in the hallways. He was glad to be home and so were we.

I don’t think my grandfather ever talked about his battle with death. He experienced too much of it especially with his own family that he lost in the Holocaust, and I could imagine that was painful. I don’t know how he lived through that, and that’s what made my grandfather the way he was.

My grandfather was a petite man, and he was full of life. He wasn’t alive to show off, or to tell someone off. I never heard him say anything horrible about a person, because he knew that it wasn’t worth the time or effort. My grandfather told me that he was bad in school, and never tried. He was a smart man, and knew his fair share. He was a fisherman, a friend, a parent, a photographer, a writer, a mechanical engineer, a grandfather, a soldier, and most of all a real flesh and blood human being.

It was around 5:30 in the afternoon when he passed away. It was raining hard, like a tropical thunder storm. It felt like the whole world was crying, and something horrific was about to happen. My mother called me around that time, but she didn’t say anything. I could tell that she was crying, and I asked if she was okay. She never answered the question, she just asked for me to get a number, the number of a Rabbi, and I knew that it was it. I cried when we hung up, and I thought that maybe I should’ve said one last thing, but I’m not sure what.

There were a lot of bruises on his arms. All of those bruises were from the morphine and other drugs injected into his body. It was really painful, and I couldn’t imagine experiencing that, but it was really upsetting to see him in this state. He lost about twenty pounds in one month, and could barely walk. Somehow though he still wore a smile on and there was something inside of him that continued to fight lung cancer. My grandfather wasn’t one to talk about his illness. He went to chemotherapy, took his medication regularly, and went to the doctor when he felt ill.

I remember when my grandfather and I walked home from school everyday. He would make fun of my mispronouncing Russian words, and tell me how to say them correctly. He always had a blue hat on, and these orthopedic shoes that I will never forget. He had this white beard, and his pearly white teeth, that were dentures (perfect condition I might add), and he always had some type of story to tell me. His stories always had a moral, and something that was personal that he wanted to pass down onto me.
I don’t remember much when I was younger about my grandfather. I do remember bits and pieces of how he would hug me so hard. My grandmother told me when he was sleeping in his bed, on the last couple of days he lived, he had a dream. He told her that he was sleeping on a couch that I remember vividly. He said he was sleeping and that my sister and I were right behind him, and he was afraid to move because he didn’t want to hurt us. My grandmother said we were his life, and that he lived for us.

I also remember, and so does pretty much everyone else, is how he blasted the volume up so high on the television, so we couldn’t even hear our thoughts. Sam was a character. He had his little inside jokes with everyone. When he got ill he asked my grandmother if he could go fishing. He held her hand and said “please” and put on his dazzling smile: that beautiful smile of his, but he knew she wouldn’t let him go. He planned ahead, when he was lying in bed. He planned about fishing with us and the type of fish we would all catch together.
When I think of him from time to time, I remember all these images running through my mind about the man who I adored. The most important image that is stuck in my mind is when I and my grandpa were sitting on the porch in front of my house. Something about how the sun was glaring into his eyes made me feel that he was a special person. I felt like there was someone looking at him and showing me how I should feel the same. I remember that and how everything on that day was beautiful. I remember my feet dangling from my porch and I was talking to him about how hot it was. I remember how the roses were blooming out from the garden that was planted by my grandmother. I just sat there and looked at my grandpa for a long time. I wanted to just look at him, and remember him how he should be. I wonder about that day, and how the sun just hit him smack on the eyes. His eyes were a beautiful hazel-green that I wanted to have. I can feel that day when I close my mind, and try to figure out what I should do.

I remember bits and pieces of the past of my grandfather. I find it really sad that I can’t ask the questions that I always wanted to ask. I still have these stories that he ingrained in my mind for eternity, and I feel like I can carry that on forever to my children. I wish that I could’ve asked more or written something down just to have. But this is all I have. I’m writing this for my own memories, with or without getting recognition. This is my grandfather, written down on paper. This shows his life throughout my eyes and with everything I have to offer.

I also to try to find things that could relate to his life, and figure out how someone could live through the horrific periods that my own grandfather lived through. I read If not now, When? by Primo Levi. I tried to imagine my grandfather throughout the novel, and I could. I could picture him doing the soldiers did. I learned a lot from Primo Levi, to stretch out my mind and see the deeper expression of life and eternal bliss.

I find that it was destiny that it was my grandfather who was the only one remaining in his family. It shows that he had something to do in life, and become the person he was meant to be. Maybe I’m wrong, because there are plenty of different thoughts probably rummaging through people’s minds of why he was the only one left. But I’m glad he lived a long life to give me amazing memories that I still cherish today.

I think of his death as not something to mourn, but actually a celebration of his life. He made me think and wonder about the world. I learned about people in general with the stories he told me. He told me that he loves me no matter what and the same goes for him. If he is reading this, I bet he’s smiling with his pearly white dentures. I love you grandpa, this one is for you.

Chapter 1
He ran towards the house to see what was inside. He saw his uncle, his aunt, and his cousins. His father told him to run, to run as fast as he could so that he wouldn’t be captured by the Germans.
“Run Sam, run as fast as you can and live with my brother. Live, and love them as if I was there. Sam, I love you. I love you very very much.”
So he ran. He ran with his short legs. He ran through the dozens of people that wanted to escape. He ran. He just ran until he found his uncle and never stopped. He ran through the dozens of trees he has passed by. He was barefoot. He was with shoes on certain days. Sometimes he was sad, also a whole mixture of emotions.
He knocked on the door. The house was completely wooden. He wondered when he would be there through the winter that if it would be drafty. He waited for quite some time until there was a woman there.
“Sam Khasin! We’re glad you’re here…Please come inside. It is getting very cold out there. And there must be people watching us. So please Sam, come in to your new home.”
He walked in and there were only two rooms. He wasn’t use to the difference from a large, grand house that he lived in all his life, until he had to escape. He saw the worried looks upon his family members and they were filthy. They were covered with dirt, and there wasn’t any space to breathe.
Days passed by. Some days were hard to get through, just by thinking and sitting there. Thinking: “Am I going to live tomorrow?” “Am I dreaming, and this is just a nightmare.” Days passed by. There were cold days, and the drafts were strong. Some days the sun came out and shined on us. The sun gave hope. The sun was all too looking forward to when you looked outside.
As the days got warmer, people needed to work. There wasn’t much to do except work in factories and struggle through the day.
“ALL IN A STRAIGHT LINE!” The man in the suit said.
“You are all here to find work; work that is tedious and stressful. We will only choose a few. The stronger ones will succeed and survive. The other ones, you know what your life faces.”
They stood. Some were nervous but he just stood there determined to be one of the strong ones. He was five foot three inches, and no one expected him to be chosen for the ones to work. He stood there standing with a smirk on his smile. He was ready to work and showed he wanted to work.
“You three he pointed. Out.”
The man stepped in front of him. The man was fat and bald but he was an interesting looking character.
“You, sir, you begin working today.” He pointed right towards the door.

To be continued

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