Monday, March 28, 2011

Red

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.

11 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

Oh what a blessing. To know you share the same favorite color. Among other things.

Mollie said...

I have no idea what my grandpa's or my grandma's favorite color is. I think I'm going to find out now before I can't.

The Holmes said...

This was really touching.

Abby said...

I am extremely close to my grandma--always have been--so this was quite poignant ;)

It's the little things, but those little things were so eloquently expressed in this piece that I won't even get sassy with some witty reply ;) Great take on the prompt.

Erin said...

This made me tear up. You should probably be starting your novel soon!

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

You brought tears to my eyes. I lost my mom in May and now we are in the process of my mother-in-law dying and my father-in-law unable to remember things and very frail. For my kids, who are in their twenties...it is so hard to see this happen to 3 grandparents in one year. So far, my dad is still doing well. To see such vibrant people become so weak is really hard. It is such a blessing to have memories to hold on to.

Girl At Rock Show said...

I absolutely love this. Now that I think about it ... I never knew what my grandfather's favorite color was. Among other things.

Jules said...

LOVE this post!!!

lex [lexinthecity] said...

This post brought back memories of my papa. I absolutely adored him and loved every minute spent with him.
Thank you for that. Sounds like you have an amazing grandfather too.

Ally said...

That was lovely. I need to catch up on my blog reading. I've been away too long.

Venom said...

Poignant. Sincerely, I choked up.