Sunday, March 4, 2012

Life Lesson #4: Remember

“At some point, your memories, your stories, your adventures, will be the only things you'll have left.”
Chuck Palahniuk

This afternoon I took the girls up to see their grandfather who suffers from dementia and Parkinson’s disease and spend some time with him.  Sitting in the corner of a non-descript room at a rehabilitation facility where he’s staying until his wife, my grandmother, heals from a recent surgery, he looks so small and frail.

As a child growing up, he was at the center of my universe.  Calling me “CJ” and “Carebear” and putting me to bed at night with stories of his time in WWII and his time fishing in Northern Wisconsin and Canada, we share a close bond.  He cultivated a love of history and books and even came to talk to my high school classes about his time in the service, he is a magnificent story teller.

I don’t see him often enough, admittedly letting “life” get in the way, but seeing him always brings a smile to both our faces.  Gingerly reaching over, my girls and I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. 

For the hour we stayed, the girls ate ice cream from the kitchen and huddled near his chair listening to him, telling him about school, sports, and an upcoming vacation.  He laughed easily, his eyes twinkling as he watched them chatter on.  And when we left, I hugged him an extra second, feeling a tear come to my eyes.  My girls are so lucky to have three out of their four grandparents still living and they love their grandfather but he’s a different man now. 

They won’t ever know the man I knew growing up.  How strong he was, how much he taught me, and I’ll always treasure that gift he gave me and that time we shared.  Tonight, when I tuck my girls into bed tonight, I’ll tell them one of his stories so that they will know a part of that history and so that I can let those memories of mine become memories of theirs.