She invited me to sit directly across from her. In doing so, I stared at her face for a minute. In those short 60 seconds, I tried to memorize every detail of her face. Every wrinkle and line corresponded with a story of wisdom and knowledge. She then took in a deep breath.
“You know, your grandfather really loved you,” she beamed.
I had been somewhat aware that my grandfather admired me, not because I was a cute infant, but because I was a product of their only offspring to actually care about and for them. Sadly, my “aunt’s” children and their children were all indoctrinated to not pay any mind to our side of the family, not even her own parents.
She smiled and continued, “whenever we’d go out, he would make it his business to carry you around in your little baby carrier.”
I couldn’t help but meet her enthusiasm towards the story.
“Then what?” I inquired.
“He’d wait to find someone to talk to about you. He pretended you were his own son. That way, when anyone asked how it was possible you could be his, he’d just say ‘Viagra!’ You were his world.”
She relayed this story onto me as if it happened the day before. After finishing her last sentence, she smiled with her head turned up to the sky. Slowly turning her head back towards the table, I could see tears welling up in her eyes once again. It had been 11 years since my grandfather passed, yet she couldn’t help but tear up at mentions of him. 11 years without her soulmate.
“Nanny, I…I know it must be hard, but you can agree with me that he’s in a better place.”
“Yes, I know,” her voice cracked. “He was in pain, and I wouldn’t wish his kind of pain on anyone.”
She took another deep breath before continuing, “I stayed alive all this time after, not because of eating good or doing everything I was I told to, but because I made myself. Once you came around, I wanted to see you accomplish everything. I wanted to see you graduate high school…get your license…go to college. When your grandfather died, I just found a new reason to stick around.”
There we sat, under a dimly lit kitchen table, reminiscing over stories about our favorite person to ever grace God’s green earth. Minutes turned into hours, and the sun lowered further into its dark chasm until almost all light in the room ceased. The only light to remain was that lone, flickering kitchen light. At times, it made me think this was my grandfather’s way of joining the conversation.