Grandpa This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      He hated my name. My family never knew why, but he hated my name, Whitney. He wished for my name to be Nicole, which is how it became my middle name. To this day I always think of 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 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 expect or hope that he will remember me when I see him. My dad held his right hand and my grandmother held his left as they walked him in to see me for the first time in four months. His bones stood out under his skin. I hadn’t seen him so thin before. His muscles had turned into excess skin that hung from his arm as if it might fall off at any moment. His skin sank in at his jaw line, and I could tell that his teeth no longer occupied his mouth. His hair was buzzed, leaving only white fuzz on top of his head. He no longer looked like my grandfather; his face was that of a stranger. He looked like he might 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 illusion of a bright feeling. Without a glance at me, my grandfather hung his head for at least a half hour, almost as if he were ashamed. I wondered, when your mind was in the clouds and you had no worries, what was there possibly to be ashamed of? Suddenly he started tracing my palm, noticing every line and detail. His fingers fell through the spaces between mine like sand. He sat there, holding my hand. Although I was practically a stranger to him, even a strong man wouldn’t have been able to pry his hand from mine. I stood up, still holding his hand, and we went for a walk to try to wake him a bit. As his feet moved with a mind of their own, he gazed at the floor without a 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, he did not want to sit. He looked at me with a grandfather’s softness. His eyes played with mine, searching for memories 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 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 gentle, loving self who always had a knack for saying the wittiest things.

All too soon, it was time to leave. We walked my grandfather back 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 delicate kisses on my cheeks as I felt tears welling 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.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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