A Hero of Time

August 22, 2011
By Anonymous

There’s always that moment—that moment in your life when you realize just what time is, and how it can affect the world around you…or more specifically, the people around you. We’ve all seen what time can do. For some, time is an enemy, viciously consuming our youth and innocence, but for others, it’s a friend, guiding us to maturity. How is it that such a simple, four letter word can enthrall us, until the point where it devastates us. But it’s true, isn’t it? In the end, time is the spoiler of any good day, or more specifically, one summer day a few months ago.

There he sat, loosely on the couch. The manufactured air spewed out from a vent wasn’t the source of the chills climbing up my spine. In fact, it was that man who had his head buried in his hands: my hero, my grandfather. It’s funny how the slightest things can instantly jog your memory and permit you to relive it. As I hoped to heal a tedious cough I had at the time with a minty cough drop, I could feel my mind spinning, taking me back into a completely different time.

The smell of peppermint cough drops still lingers in my nose when I think of my grandpa. “These candies aren’t for you,” he’d flash a whole-hearted grin at me. “They’re kiggghh.” It wasn’t a word you’d find in the dictionary. It wasn’t a word even a minority would know! But I knew what it meant. It was my grandfather’s word for “disgusting.” It was a word, although made up, he used often.

Somehow, my mind decided to travel back to the days when I was five, and my grandpa would drive my sister and me to preschool. The feel of the fuzzy cushions against my smooth hands was comforting, and the sound of my grandfather laughing was the only music I needed then. The sun used to beat on me, sending a wave of suffocating heat onto my face. I stepped out of the car with ease, ready to begin this new school day. There was no bitter taste of tears in my mouth, and why should there be? After all, I knew that in a few hours, that same man, my hero, would surely be there, ready to take me home in his dark blue Grand Marquee.

The blue Marquee. God, I can still remember the smell. It wasn’t of anything pleasant, but merely of dust that sent a choking sensation deep inside my throat. That car not only sent me into a coughing fit, but it also seemed to attract the waste of pelicans circling above. It was rather humorous how every time my grandfather would treat me to McDonalds, we’d leave the restaurant with more than a few extra fries and a Kid’s Meal toy. “Those damn birds!” he’d curse angrily at them. I remember shielding my innocent ears, giggling at his foul language.

This man was my grandfather, my source of giggles, and most of all, my hero. But things change, as a few months ago proved. There was the same man, sitting quietly on the couch. The source of my smiles was now the bringer of frowns. His memory had quickly faded and the smell of peppermint cough drops was no more. The look of his frail body and the feel of his cold skin shot me into the present time, wearing away any remnants of the past. He was still wearing the same clothing combinations that he usually wore: a cornflower blue dress shirt and black pants. Wow. I hadn’t realized how the clothes that used to fit snugly around his body were now loose and baggy. How clothes fit on a person are usually only noticed if you are study a person closely—something I obviously hadn’t done for a few months. If I had, I would have known that my grandfather was losing large amounts of weight in a short amount of time.

At that point, my grandpa was looking for his keys, his latest obsession, and as he got more frustrated, my family realized it was time for him to go home. I stood up numbly; my feet carried me over to my grandfather, but my heart didn’t want to go anywhere near him. I leaned down, showcasing my forehead for him to gently peck a kiss on. Watching the man I loved leave, I stood outside in the warm summer air, and suddenly, I saw the man I had once known vanish, and a new, more delusional one, replace him. This time, eleven years later, I could taste the bitter tears slip through the creases of my mouth. I waved goodbye to him, staring only at the silver car he was trying to get into. There was no dark blue Grand Marquee that held the comforting fuzzy cushions and the music of laughter had disintegrated. Instead, I watched my grandfather stare out the dashboard of my dad’s car and drive away, taking any sense of joy and hope with him.

Time was my enemy, viciously consuming who my grandfather was, but at the same time, time was my companion, guiding me closer and closer to maturity. Time could take away some things, but it could never take away my memories of the man I call my hero.

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