He was sick and slumping on the patio on the rickety wooden porch swing he had made for his home when he found out his oldest daughter was pregnant with his first grandchild. My mother later told me everyone was surprised at the surge of warmth that this staunch, upright and generally uptight man had for his grandchildren.
I found myself staring at him as he drifted in and out of a partially medically induced sleep. Not of of pity but out of wonder at what the ravages of disease had done to him. I remembered walking hand in hand with him down the sidewalk of the neighborhood my father had grown up in. He was so very tall and rigid, his voice deep and gravelly. He'd look down at me and even as a child I'd appreciate the general good looks in his face, his shoulders which I had always noticed were broad for his thin frame, his thick lips encompassing the bottom half of his face in what was usually a grimace. He was always dressed impeccably and his closet was packed full with more clothing than I'd ever known any other man owning.
Even now on the bright spring day on the patio together I am an adult but look ragged and ill-dressed across from him in his neat khaki pants, button up shirt and baby blue cardigan sweater, one with the neat alligator on the breast. His loafered feet are crossed on the ground below him and he awakens when his seat swings slightly backwards.
He grins when he sees that I am still sitting across from him. He asks me if I have seen the movie with the lions and it takes me a while to realize which movie he's talking about. I gather the information I have in my brain about the movie he's talking about, Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas battling rogue lions in the African savanna.
We talk about it for a moment and about how much we both liked it and I see that he knows a lot more about animals then I had ever known. I remember the wood carvings of elephants, lions and gazelles he had made when I was a child. He had been a carpenter of sorts, retired at a young age.
He starts to drift in and out of sleep again and looks at me for a moment.
"What's your favorite color then? Erin?" He sounds so much the same but really isn't.
"Red." I whisper because I feel the emotion start to well up in my throat at his strange question.
"Mine too." At this he falls back asleep, head lolling on the shoulders I had so greatly admired.