Four years tomorrow is the last time I saw my grandpa alive. He passed away on August 23rd, 2004. It still seems like yesterday. I don’t talk about it, but I think about it a lot.
I think about the last time I saw him, and how I was in such a rush to get out the door. I don’t even remember where I was going. I suppose I should feel lucky that I saw him that night, but I can’t shake the idea that I should have stayed longer, said more, not taken for granted that he would always be there.
He loved me more than I can say. He came to all of my basketball games in high school. He would sit up high in the bleachers because he couldn’t walk down them to get any closer. He would get up sometimes and stand, because I knew it hurt his back to just sit down. But he stayed. Always.
He came to my college graduation, even when Grandma couldn’t. He really wanted to be there. He was proud of me and I was so happy that he came, even though I don’t feel like I showed it enough at the time.
He always had a huge garden in the back of his house. I drove past it the other day and it is all tilled under. I felt physically ill. I can still see him on his hands and knees, dripping sweat all over the place, covered in dirt, making those plants grow.
I can remember going over to his apartment across the street from the assisted living place that he ended up in, remember how angry and frustrated he was that he couldn’t do things on his own.
And all of that soup in the freezer. I took it home with me and ate it until I couldn’t eat it anymore. Because he made it and he wanted me to have it. I still have huge bottles of spices that he used. He was always making cookies, had a real sweet tooth. Cookies, homemade popcorn, and the old-fashioned peppermints and butterscotch hard candies he always had in his pocket. Always had them, anywhere he went.
I remember when he bought the camcorder in the early 90’s and was so serious about getting things down on film. I can remember picking peaches, or maybe cherries in the backyard, with him filming the whole thing. He didn’t want to miss a moment.
He had an older car that he called his “fishing car.” It reeked of bait and dead fish, but it was his car…I can still smell it right now. He loved to fish, loved to tell fish stories. Loved to tell any story.
I remember a lot, remember every day. Always something happens that makes me think. I think he would be proud of me for how far I have come in life, that I haven’t let the shit in my life get me down.
Randy Travis, He Walked on Water