Young Eyes

July 30, 2011
We live our life in search of those we can console in, those we can rely on, and that person could be your best friend, your brother, or your grandpa; but once they’re fading away the roles are reversed, time is too fast, memories are too distance, and all you want to do is rewind.
The turkey was roasting in the oven, the fire was lit the light producing serenity throughout the house, the popping fire was chimed in with the quiet laughter, and these are the sounds of happiness. The kitchen was a whirl-wind of chaos, my aunt and my mother feet scuffed the floor, mixing the gravy, and setting out plates. With a press of a button the Christmas music joined the symphony of sounds, composing the song of thanksgiving. If you were you to step out of the frame it would like a hallmark card, all smiles and laughter, but pictures never tell the full story do they?

The dog’s old barks signaled yet another guest, except this time it was different, my uncle and my dad automatically went to the door, my cousin blew out the candles and waved away the smoke in a hurry, my mom’s face looked 5 years older than it had 10 minutes ago, the lines in her face became more pronounced, and then the door opened and it seemed that every person in the house took a breath, not exhaling until the scene ends, which I wasn’t sure it would anytime soon. In walked my grandma, her ever present confidence was hidden, in its place was worry, she fiddled with her hands, and then the door slowly swung up, and then I saw my grandpa, he looked like a stranger with a familiar face. His eyes were sunken, his complexion pale as if he had a fight with the sun and never once showed it his face. He saw me and forced a smile, his skin pulled tight around his cheeks bones, casting shadows on the hollows of his cheeks, his body was folded over, hunched, tired, and he looked up…
“Happy Thanksgiving…”
My new dogs barked their puppy shrills as my grandmother strode in, carelessly throwing her coat on the rack.

“Happy Thanksgiving darling,” Her eyes twinkled bright, she cuffed her sleeves and with a determined stride. “Megan honey, let mom help you cook, Thanksgiving 2009 is going to the best meal yet.” Their voices echoed from the kitchen, I stifled a giggle because supposedly every year will be the best meal.
The creak of the door caught my attention as I turned, strolling in was my grandpa holding an array of pie making his way to the kitchen.
“Poppop!” I sang. His eyes caught mine, turning up as he smiled with pure happiness, his face tanned from the Florida vacation, he looked like he stepped out a vineyard vine magazine in his yellow sweater and tan khakis’, he once told me that he never wanted to dress like the stereotypical old man, I laughed forever when he said that.

“Happy Thanksgiving my favorite grandchild,” He joked as he set the pies down and engulfed me in a hearty hug, his familiar cologne swirling around me…

“Happy Thanksgiving too, how are you feeling?” I asked tentatively, knowing the answer was right in front of me, in the way he aged, in his very complexion, he was changing and not for the better. I knew this because he didn’t act quite the same, he was more reserved. He didn’t talk the same, it wasn’t as lively. He didn’t even dress the same, he wore a large sweater and old khakis, with a stain on the pocket, and he hated stains.

“I’m just going through a slump, don’t worry honey.” He forced a smile, his mask wasn’t working I could see right through it and I knew that it was lie.

“Ok,” I answered slowly, and put my arms around him softly pulling him in to a hug, his bones were evident, and he was so fragile that holding him too tight could break him, he is now so fragile. The moment was gone too soon as my mom walks over to say hello to her father, she brought him in to the den. To a bystander it would look as if my grandfather is getting pampered finding him a perfect chair to watch TV in, a heater at his feet, a blanket thrown over him. We brought him food, and a glass of juice, he has to drink juice because he can’t drink the same thing as the adults. But to me, someone who knows, who knows that my poppop had a stroke, one that has marked him, and continuously marks him, that ages him, that were not pampering him were doing what we can do, were letting him do what he can, which is to sit and watch TV, because he’s too tired, and listening is too strenuous; it’s a game of pretending, never hearing, trying to listen, but ultimately pretending to hear the stories told. Laughter is shared, stories told, while he sits on, watching football. Food is passed around, drinks are poured, and dinner is prepared, while he sits on, watching football. Dinner is called, the football is turned off, and he aimlessly makes his way to the table…

The footballs is back round noise as my poppop tells me stories about the world he’s traveled, the languages he’s spoken, he’s reading me the book of his life, leaving it wide open for me to ponder, to discover and learn as his eyes light up with every tale he tells. A glass of wine swirling around in his hand like the stories swirling around in mind, the stories of his youth makes him young again, more alive than ever.

He stares on with his eyes that no longer hold the shine, the liveliness that used to burn in them he just stares throughout the constant chatter, throughout the contagious smiles passed around the table, every now and then there are the rare moments when I can spot the unmistakable twitch of his lips, his silent laughter. We include him in half hearted small talk with is returned with even smaller small talk from him. Dinner flows in desert, everyone takes mountains of pies blanketed with ice cream and topped off with whipped cream miles high, I sit down at the table and behind my array of desserts I see my grandpa, his eyes downcast looking at his fingers, this keeps him occupied.

“Poppop aren’t you going to have desert?” I asked waiting for the yes that comes every year, waiting for him to ask for the biggest amount of ice cream possible, I know my popop and he loves desert, he loves sugar.

“No, not this time sweetie,” He answers delicately. I try to hide my shock; this was so unlike him, and so I just nod.
After the last tid-bit of dessert has been devoured, we all make our full bellies to the den, except for two, nene and poppop. I notice that they are putting on there jackets, getting ready to leave…
“Get your old man more dessert!” Poppop jokes
holding his plate out in my direction.
“You’re going to go in to a sugar coma,” I tease, while putting another peace of chocolate pudding pie and bananas crème pie on his plate.
“Oh hush, pie was meant to be eaten, and don’t forget the ice cream.”
I reply with laughter.
We sit together tell each other our favorite type of pies and ice cream, carelessly bantering about how banana crème tops apple, our conversations came so easily.
“Are you guys going?” I question Nene and Poppop.
“Yes sweetie, it’s getting late and we’re getting tired.” She replies smoothly, as her eyes peek at the clock that reads 7:58.
We all gather around my grandparents, the ritual that happens every time a guest leaves; smother them with hugs and kisses, and Happy Thanksgivings.
“Goodnight Poppop, it was really nice to see you tonight.” I said.
“You too, Happy Thanksgiving,” He replied.
“I love you too.” The words flowed out of my mouth and I never meant it more than I had then, watching him walk out in to the cold dark night that holds the mysterious of the future and the secrets of the past, I would take anything to uncover the mysterious of the future, and to relive the moments of the past, for that is all I have, the moments I share with the ones I love.
I like to think that we all live forever, that we all stay young, but like me my eyes are young, I haven’t dealt with the hardships that life throw at you, the obstacles in our life, until now. My grandfather, his eyes are aged, ripe with scenes in his life, some that he has shared and others that he keeps to himself, but with my young eyes, etched in to them are the memories with my grandfather, and the memories that are yet to be made, I found who I console in, though he is aging his aged eyes teach me more than anyone else could, he doesn’t have speak a word, I just look in to them and see.

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