Every time my family went to go visit my grandparents, the same thing would happen. We would walk up to the clear, glass door, where my grandfather would be standing, waiting to open it for us. He would never really say anything, just hug me and try to subtly slip me two dollars. I never really knew why he did this, but every time I came over for as long as I can remember, I would receive two dollars. Never one. Never three. Always two. Those $2 per visit eventually started to add up.
He was a quiet man, but still held a strong presence in any room, partially due to his height (6’7). He was never one for starting conversations, so he would usually let my chatty grandmother do the talking.
“Girls! I’ve missed you so much!” my grandmother would yell excitedly. She says this everytime we visit, even if we had just seen each other last week. My grandfather would just stand there silently with his hand pressed firmly against my shoulder. He still wouldn’t say anything as my grandmother began her usual rant about the latest neighborhood gossip, which she loves to partake in.
I step into the tiny sitting room and immediately can small the Wintergreen mints my grandfather can’t live without. The low hum of the boiling hot furnace can only be heard faintly over the annoying voice of the QVC saleswoman that constantly drones throughout the house. I almost trip over a messy stack of old Mario Kart video games and Disney DVDs. I can see the old wall unit enclosing the TV that my mom begs my grandmother to remove, due to the fact that it covers up two large windows (I’ve always agreed with my mom on this). I grab the remote and switch the channel on the TV, knowing that if my grandma sees it she will surely buy whatever Life Changing Device is being advertised today.
We fell into a routine, a pattern almost. The visits all started to become the same. Even my grandmother’s gossip started to get repetitive. I should have made more out of seeing them. I should have talked to them more, asked more questions, gone more places, and definitely not taken them so much for granted, because you never know if you’re ever going to see them again. You just never know.
Here’s a good life tip: don’t go off to sleep away camp when your grandfather is sick, you never know what’s going to happen. I had known that he was a little bit sick before I left with my cousins, but never could have imagined the importance of the situation.
It was my birthday, July 14th, when the first letter came. It said that he had gotten a little sicker, but my cousins and I shouldn’t worry because he was going to be Fine. Totally Fine. And we all believed it.
A few days later, we received another letter. This one said that he had gotten put in the hospital. But again, he was going to be Totally Fine. And we kept on believing.
I started to worry more, and was anxiously awaiting the arrival of another letter. Although part of me didn’t want to know what I would find out, I needed to know what was happening. My head became put on a constant cycle of What If? questions. Days passed and nothing. We got nothing.
The final letter that was sent was from my dad. It said that my mother had driven up to Long Island to be with him. In this letter, nobody said that everything was going to be Totally Fine. Or even just Fine.
So we stopped believing.
Camp ended in two days, and we didn’t get any more letters…
On the last day of camp, I was expecting to see my parents coming to pick me up, but was surprised instead to see my aunt standing in front of me. On the car ride home, she explained that my mom wasn’t able to come pick me up because she was still in Long Island with my grandfather.
The next few days went by in a blur. All I really remember was my dad telling me that he wasn’t going to make it one night, and then waking up the next day and he was gone. I also remember begin weirdly okay with it. I guess knowing what was going to happen made things easier.
From this, I learned never to take the good things in life for granted, because in the end, you never really know what’s going to come your way.