October 1st, 2014. I woke up to the sound of crying, little did I know that my whole day would be filled with it. It was the same day I started carrying the picture. The edges are worn down and there are small white lines across the image from where the picture was folded to fit in the small pocket of my bag. Through the lines you can see, Im sitting in a big brown lazy boy chair on a man's lap, he is wearing an old faded blue plaid shirt. My grandpa was always wearing a plaid shirt. We’re both smiling as if someone just told the funniest joke we had ever heard. There are birthday presents on the floor and people off talking in the background. The picture itself doesn't mean much, I don't remember the day it was taken or what the party was for, but I remember him.
He was the tallest person I had ever met, but also the happiest. From the white wisps of hair at the top of his head to the large duct taped shoes on his feet, there seemed to be not one ounce of sadness. He was also the toughest, his large hands were rough and callused from years of hard work and there were two long scars on each of his knees from surgeries. Even in the last year of his life there was not one complaint about his pain, but after awhile we could see it in his eyes. Out of all the amazing things my grandpa overcame in his life, cancer would not be one of them. One of my last memories with my grandpa was at his house. He was laying in the big white hospice bed that had been brought in about a year before, it was tall and squeaky and he only ever got out of it when the nurses were there to help. My grandma was making dinner, I sat on the edge of his bed and held his hand. He tried to speak but his voice was to weak and I couldn't hear him, I leaned forward so my ear was inches away from his mouth.
“ Love you” he repeated. Tears came to my eyes as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. After a few minutes I sat up, it felt like he would break if I squeezed to hard. His dark brown eyes closed as he continued to hold my hand and it was then I noticed his strong calloused hands didn't look the same, they were skinny and fraile and I could hardly feel his grip on my hand.
I remember spending nights at his house. The old wooden floors squeaking beneath my feet with every step. Almost every room I went to I could spot a framed photo of me and my cousins along with a small glass bowl filled with some kind of hard candy. The hot air was filled with the smell of vanilla candles and cigars, and the sound of fans and Judge Judy's voice seemed never ending. In front of her voice was that big brown lazy boy chair, it was the spot I could almost always find him, and I didn't dare sit there without permission. At his house I would always wake up to the smell of pancakes and maple syrup, my grandpa would sit with me and eat them while making claims that my grandma will only make them if i’m there.But on this day I woke up to something different. As I opened my eyes that morning I could hear birds chirping and see light shining through my blinds. I rolled over and looked at the time on my alarm clock, it was almost 8:30am. I looked out my window for snow, there was nothing. I layed in bed and tried to think of any possible reason why my parents would let me sleep instead of going to school. As I lay there quietly thinking I heard my mom talking to someone on the phone, her voice was distressed and there were pauses in between her words until suddenly they stopped. I heard her footsteps as she walked to my sisters room, I waited and kept listening. The moment I heard my sister start crying was the moment I knew something awful had happened. I got up quickly and went to my kitchen in search of my dad, but he had already left the house for the day. I sat at the kitchen counter and waited for my mom to come tell me the news. The cancer won, and my grandpa was gone.
The following week consisted of crying, food, and getting hugs from people i've never seen before. Weeks after no one talked about it, there was an uncomfortable silence when the topic was brought up. So I carry the picture with me in my coach wristlet, folded up and stuffed in a little zipper pocket. I go to get spare change to get a slushy or a coffee, and I see it. He may not always be talked about, but he will never be forgotten. When I see it I remember that he is always with me, not because of the picture but because of his spirit. I remember he is with God in a better place, and someday I will see him again.