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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What Time is It?

My grandson’s first birthday was this last weekend.  It was a wheel-based affair, in keeping with his unabashed love for all things rolling.  

The oldest man in the room, my grandson’s great-grandfather, sits at the kitchen table, unmoored in time, drifting among the years he spent in the Navy. 

“Where’s Pearl?” he suddenly exclaims.

I remember him taking The Boy and me to the Swedish Institute when they had a Viking ship on display.  He took us to lunch afterwards, and I ordered the chicken breast in aspic, just to impress him.

Aspic, for those not raised in the 18th century, is a meat gelatin.

You’re welcome.

I sit down opposite him at the table.  I can see that he doesn’t recognize me, and I swallow hard.

We stare into each other’s eyes.  Slowly, he remembers.  He leans across the table and pats my hand. “You’re very pretty,” he says.  He winks.

I smile – he always told me I was pretty. I stand up, walk to his side, but he’s gone, back to the early 1950s, when he is young and strong and stationed in the Philippines.  “It’s just beautiful, the water. Just look at it.”

I run a hand across his shoulders and head back to the living room, where my grandson is spinning the wheels of his new tractor, and my ribcage feels too small. 


Bill Lisleman said...

you have a big heart.
Generations on both sides of you felt the love.

jenny_o said...

Ah, Pearl ... I think you have had a rough couple of years in the parental unit department. I'm sorry. It's hard.

And it's beautiful that you have a new generation to love. Best wishes to the little birthday boy.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Oh Pearl. I feel your sense of loss. My dad struggled with Alzheimer's for years. I'm not sure if that's what your family is dealing with, but when they start slipping down that slippery slope--whether it's dementia or Alzheimer's or the just-turned-60 forgetfulness (MY problem ;)--it's horrible.

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round... and the life cycle does too. Those who used to take care of us now need to be taken care of.

Should Fish More said...

Know that his love for you will always live in that big heart of yours. As someone in my mid-70's I too feel things slipping away, but my wife often visits me in the night, in my dreams, and I can return to when we were young, and the future stretched out, boundless, in front of us.

Elephant's Child said...

Oh Pearl. My own ribcage shrank reading your words.

Pearl said...

Oh, you guys. Now I'm glad I wrote this.

Gigi said...

Pearl! As always, your words hit home. I've got tears in my eyes. Sending much love.

And yeah, I'm glad you wrote this too. You have more support than you know.

Happy birthday to that sweet grandson!

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

It is so sad when they no longer remember us
Our grandsons are so amazing

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

My Dad, who suffered from dementia, would have moments of “awakening” and then would go back into himself. It was so sad but I liked to think that he found a place of peace and comfort. I hope that is where your grandfather goes also.

Congratulations on your grandson. Grandchildren are the best surprises in our lives.

Jeff (Sage) said...

Nice, you do such a great job at capturing important moments whether it’s funny or touching.

Linda O'Connell said...

Your gentle touch reaches beyond the family generations. You also touch your readers with this rib cage shrinking stuff.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

In the middle looking both ways. And my heart bursts with love, too!