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Our Last-Minute Revelations This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Growing up as an only child with two working parents, my time and growth were often dependent on my retired Italian grandparents. Their clashing attitudes constantly antagonized each other, but also resulted in compromises forced by total exhaustion. I can vividly remember my hunchbacked grandfather returning from the store with tomatoes and my grandmother taking one from the bag to examine. Within seconds she burst out in her forceful Boston accent, “What? Kansas! John, how many times do I have to tell you before you get it into your head that these tomatahs are no good! I want Ohio tomatahs,” only to face the inevitable rebuttal from my frugal grandfather who refused to buy ones that cost five cents more. After ten minutes of bickering, the two had to stop due to pure exhaustion. It has been speculated that it wasn’t cancer that killed my grandmother but my grandfather’s stubbornness, which I find believable.

After my grandmother’s death, Grandfather deteriorated from his sadness, both emotionally and mentally. His suffering led to several strokes, and it was daunting to see a man who had always been quick and attentive become half the person he had been. Although he could still drive and use the phone, he couldn’t really care for himself. Ergo, I began spending more time with him. I became the guardian of my elder. This is how I truly remember my grandfather, and it is in this context that my story follows.

After entering the state of unanticipated tutelage, I realized the rapid rate of change in my grandfather. As his mental dexterity waned, he ironically struck a cord of revelation. His wife, he said, was “the most beautiful woman he had ever met,” although it has also been speculated that he never uttered those words to her. He spent his remaining years waiting to be reunited with his love.

In September, 2004, my grandfather was once again admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment. One day, my mom and I snuck in my dog, Chinle, as visiting hours ended. Chinle was the source of my grandfather’s greatest happiness; it was her affection and warmth that gave him his ability to continue. As we entered the room, the runtish dog preceded us, leaping on the bed and nesting her nose between my grandfather’s arm and body. He let out a chuckle, as always. I laid on the end of his bed and put my hands above my head, trying to stretch my sore back. Over the course of ten minutes, conversation died down to trivial matters and I closed my eyes. My hands were resting above my head when I felt a warm hand grasp mine tenderly. I expected it would only grab for a moment and then release after a few seconds, but this hand, his hand, didn’t let go. I caught my mother’s eyes welling with tears, as she knew the importance of this moment. My grandfather’s hand and heart were touching mine. He had never expressed such affection, but at this time it came naturally. It seemed the most secure and perfect moment of my life.

As Chinle became restless and visiting hours ended, my mother reluctantly forced our departure. Our grasp released and I kissed my grandfather’s cheek, as did my mother.

“I love you, Grampy,” I said with newfound meaning. He said nothing, which was normal, since it now seemed his senility got in the way of his reactions. Halfway down the corridor I was hit with an emotion, a need - I couldn’t leave without hearing my grandfather say he loved me. I ran back to repeat, “Grampy, I love you.” His eyes connected and he returned the words I longed to hear. Why did I, at that moment, have to hear that phrase I had always taken for granted? The emotion remained irrational the rest of the evening until the phone rang at quarter past nine. My stomach dropped as I rushed to answer. I picked up the phone with a timid, “Hello,” knowing who was calling and the news. The nurse reported my grandfather had passed away.

In our last moments together, my grandfather had a grace he had lacked our entire lives, and I learned never to miss a chance to express love. In those final moments his ability to show love became the greatest lesson he left me.

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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