Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How do you say goodbye?

How do you look at your Grandfather lying in that hospital bed and tell him goodbye? Is it possible to sum up everything into those few moments you have?

Grandpa and Terry
How do I look at his frail, thin body and not break? I choose to remember his larger than life presence. The way he walked into the room, and made sure he had your attention.

How do hold his veined hands, bruised and curved by time without sadness? I choose to remember the life they held. They were his livelihood. He fixed our cars, tinkered with gadgets, and made countless things easier by making a new trinket. I'll remember those hands teaching me that black olives and Bugles corn chips make perfect hats for your fingers. And always, there was a giant bear hug at the end of the day.

How do I watch his tears fall and keep mine at bay? I choose to see the twinkle in his eye as he let's a little mischief out on someone unsuspecting. I see my brother being doused with the water hose/sprinkler once again (he always fell for that one). I see him threatening to poke a hole in every basketball in the state if I didn't get up to see him soon (little league basketball ate into our Saturdays on the farm). I see nurses jumping as he yelled even when they weren't sticking him with a needle.

How do I strain to listen to his voice as he thinks of something else he wants one of us to do and not cry?  I'll remember instead the sound of his cattle call that brought in the cows from across the pasture. I'll remember hearing him yell "That's my Beth-Beth" over the crowd at my high school graduation.

We'll remember the bows on his forehead at Christmas time, the Little Debbie Snack Cakes, the booming laugh, and his disdain for croutons, rice, and Mexican food. I'll eat a bowl of strawberry ice cream, trade my tomatoes for croutons with someone else with a tearful smile, and giggle when I hear my kids growl just like their Great-Grandfather. Every time I see Lava soap or Prell shampoo, I'll flash back to the farm and Grandpa's mudroom. I'll wear one of his undershirts one more time since he always shared his with me when I ruined my clothes with the dirt at the farm. I'll thank him for my Momma, and for sharing my Grandma with me.

How do I say goodbye to this man? I'll tell him one more time to scoot over. I'm sure there is room for both of us in that bed. It won't be his chair, and this time, I'll know which one of us got too big to fit, but we'll squeeze in. Just
 one more time.