Opa's Angel

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Opa.
“Don't tell me if I'm dying,
Cause I don't wanna know,
If I can't see the sun,
Maybe I should go,
Don't wake me cause I'm dreaming,
Of angels on the moon,
Where everyone you know,
Never leaves too soon...”
(“Angels On the Moon” Thriving Ivory)



I don’t know why, but I cried way more when I found out about my Opa. It felt like I had dry swallowed a huge pill. My heart sank, and I gave in. My head started pounding, feeling like it was going to explode if the tears didn’t get out. I lay down, facing my night table. Trying not to make noise as tears are silently running down my face. All I can think about is how I will never hear him laugh, or joke with us saying Gotchya! while pulling us onto onto the couch, and tickling us until we are completely limp. I will never see his face again. Emotions radiate through my body.

It’s not that I was extremely close to my Opa, but I kind of felt like he understood me better than my other family members. He reminded me of myself, and I didn’t feel like I had to put on a fake smile in front of him. My Grandpa had died a year or so before. I didn’t know him very well, because he lived on the East Coast. My Opa lived on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Seattle. We visited them much more often, and traveled with them more. I got to know my Opa better than I ever knew my Grandpa, and as I got older, I started to notice that he was very secluded. He sat back and observed everything quietly, with a smile on his mouth, and his wrinkly, tan hands folded on his belly. He only talked every so often, and was perfectly comfortable in silence. He is the kind of guy that, when it comes to labor, he is insistent. No matter his broken hip, or fractured arm, he would not let an opportunity to work go by.

It was hot, but dreary. My dad and I were in a Greek food restaurant in downtown SLC, around the block from my dads office. I was examining the green cups white lettering. Noticing the irony that the cup said Opa! and my dad and I were leaving to visit my Opa and Grandma in a few hours. My dad hung up his phone, and set it on the table. So, what did Grandma say? I put the cardboard cup down. Oh, uh, she just dropped Opa off for his doctors appointment. I cross my legs, For what? I grab the last grape leaf. Well, when you get to be his age, you usually get a checkup a few times a year, just because your body’s getting old, ya know? I nod and give a little Ohh, okay. Well are you ready to go?

Once our plane landed in Tucson, my dad turned on his phone, and dialed my Grandma. Hey, Mom, we just landed...why?...oh...okay, yeah, I called a town car...okay, call me as soon as you guys are on your way home. It is also hot here, but extremely sunny too. I squint up at my dad while setting my bag down by the curb, Are they picking us up here? I ask. No, we are taking a town car. I am wondering why my Grandma doesn’t just come pick us up. Why? Because Opa is at the hospital still, he had some problems with his stomach hurting, and they found some...the rest was just words.

I open my door and step out of the car. I look around, and remember the last time I was here, which was the first. I heave my suitcase out of the trunk, and carry it to the front door. My dad pushes the door open, and we step inside to the familiar smell. My Grandma calls the house and says she will be home soon and fix up some left overs. At dinner, they discuss things that I couldn’t possibly comprehend. All I here in the mess of medical terms is Leukemia.

The next day, we head to the hospital to visit him. When we find his room, he is sleeping under the much too familiar beep of the heart rate monitor. He wakes up slowly, and takes a minute to register our presence. We just sit there, and talk. He acts like there is nothing wrong.

The nurse walks in, and talks to my dad, and Grandma. Something involving a meeting with a man from the hospital in Seattle that specializes in blood cancer. It seems practical to move him to a hospital that can do more in a shorter amount of time, but he seems to frail to even walk. When the nurse leaves the room, my Grandma announces that the meeting is scheduled for 12:00, in and hour and a half. My Opa turns to us, and tells us he is tired. My Grandma ushers us out, and drives me back, so I don’t have to wait around for four hours.

The rest of the trip, I hang out at the house while my dad and Grandma run back and forth to the hospital. One night I am sitting on the couch reading, and my Grandma picks up the phone to dial my Opa’s room number. He picks up after the third ring, and my Grandma immediately asks him how he is. So, on monday the jet will be ready around nine, and we should be on and going by ten. I can only hear my Grandmas side of the conversation, but after a pause of what must be my Opa talking, my Grandma says in her critical tone No, Bill. Do not! No, why would you say there is no reason?! That was the moment that the weight of this sickness was a hundred times heavier than I thought.

As my dad drove me to the airport, I kept quizzing him on the private jet he would be flying back to Seattle in. What will it look like? Will it be big? Will you be able to walk all around in it? Will it have couches? Is it like the one I saw on the back of the New Yorker, and there were like, two politicians sitting on a couch, and there was a jar of jellybeans on the table that they were playing cards on? Private jets were the most amazing thing, and I had to go back by myself, because I had school the next day. It was different driving in the car with my dad. He tried to look happy so I wouldn’t worry, but he would only talk briefly, and when he needed to.

From then on, my dad flew to Washington one to two times a week. One week, he took my sister out to see my Opa over the weekend, and then the next, he would take me. This went on for a month. At the end of April, I was getting ready to go to a party at the temple with my friend, Ellie, because it was a Jewish holiday. I was running around my room trying to find clothes to wear. My mom walked in while I was sitting on the bed pulling my shoes on. Hey, Papa just called. I glanced up at her, Yeah? How’s Opa? She sits down on the bed next to me. I know whats coming, but I am still waiting to here it. Her voice catches as she starts to talk. He passed about an hour ago... I try to stop myself from crying, but it is to hard. I fall back onto the bed, and let the salty water run down my face. My mom sits with me, holding me, as we both lay there crying. He was an amazing guy. After what feels like has been an hour, I sit up and start putting my shoes on. You don’t have to go you know, why don’t you just stay home? I stand up, keeping my back to her, No, I already told Ellie I would go. They are probably on their way. I wait on the bench in the mud room for Ellie to call. When the phone rings, I grab my bag and walk out the door.





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