To my grandpa who died 12 years ago
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To my grandpa who died 12 years ago

I never really knew you, but I've always felt close to you

To my grandpa who died 12 years ago

Dear Gramp,

I hope you're doing well. It's been almost twelve and a half years since you died, which sounds like a really long time even though I remember everything like it was yesterday.

I remember you calling me George Washington, because I thought you looked like him, and I remember you in your blue-gray chair that gram still doesn't sit in. I remember us at the top of the stairs, canvas bag in hand, smiling at the camera even though I'm sad you were leaving.

I remember when things started to go down hill, when your mind couldn't keep up with the aging of your body. It's funny how when we're old, we start acting young. I remember the fights, wishing I had gone to get takeout instead of staying with you and gram. The bed in the dining room, the nurse in your house, the calling it quits because it was just getting "too much."

I remember the nursing home, its brick walls and yellow-light rooms. I remember your birthday party, the last day I saw you, the paper decorations making the common room seem more depressing than before.

I remember the call, the sound of my mother's restrained sobs from two rooms over, the color in her face showing relief that maybe you could be you again. I remember being in the shower, not knowing what to say to her, but putting myself in her place as she left me to see you.

I remember the rain, the Sheraton, the velvet floral dress I could not wait to take off. I remember buttered pasta and marble cheese cubes, and my mother stepping into a black limo without me. I remember the carpeted church, Reverend John Hughes, the unfamiliar faces at the back of the pews. It was a good turnout, they said, as if it was your birthday party.

I remember being sad some days afterwards, but not really sure why; I didn't know if I missed you or if I was grieving some sort of innocence, crying about death itself and how we are all the same, in the end. I remember retreating to the corner of my purple wall, clutching the teddy bear with the striped shirt, my oldest stuffed animal, the one you brought me the day I was born.

It's funny how I look back now and realize: I never really knew you. I never heard you play piano, or sing at church, or make fun of my grandmother, because by the time my mind had developed yours had already deteriorated. I remember souvenirs of you, stories: the teddy bear, the picture of you when you were 25, the purple-yarned lanyard with an Irish prayer on the back. The black leather bible that still smells like your basement, the best smell in the world. I feel like we would have been good friends, you and I.

I don't think about you as often as I should, but I've always felt close to you. I can see you watching me, smiling at my success and hugging me when I fall. I remember a dream I had, at a house on the beach, and you were there, at the top of the stairs, and you held my hand and brought me down, and told me to look for my grandmother.

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