Coffee and doughnuts. Caddy Shack. Cinnamon rolls. Cherry picking. Handkerchiefs. Puzzles. Coupons. Solitude. Jokes. Reclining chairs. Newspapers. Wool socks.
Each of these carry a happy memory of Grandpa Gibson. And in his absence, I delight in them for him and me. From the gift shop of his life, I take these souvenirs.
From what is immaterial, I am trying to live better. My mom thinks Grandpa learned to live better from dying. He is leaving with more grace than when he started. May we all. In dying, he lost his mobility, his independence and his home with Grandma. He lost privacy, his natural elegance, his virile stature and his ability to swallow. Loss, his nearest companion in death, made him better at living.
The ladder against the cherry tree, the Sunday paper, the tried and true coffee thermos, the evenly ironed handkerchief, the bowl of cherry pits are wondrous in memory. Virtuous. Perfect. There is no end to the appreciation loss brings. That ability could ever seem ordinary or hours endless must have astounded Grandpa in death.
Certainty, lapsed attention, control, disconnection are obstacles in life but to the dying, they are cruel. I can't imagine the desire to belong when the circus is kicking you out. Then, even idleness would feel exquisite; each breath a study on time.
I didn't see Grandpa's erosion. I didn't go. He watched my show from his bed. A nurse had to make sure the TV was on and loud enough and my mom posted a schedule of its airing in his room. I am proud he saw me do what I love. I am remorseful that early last month was too late.
If death can teach Grandpa about living, about what time is for and what is everlasting, I hope my life can teach me about death. That it happens to all of us and in its own time. It is complete and once and true. It is not to be feared but revered. This time, this holy, humble now is complete and once and true. It is a sacred unfolding. Coffee, cherry, recliner, coupon, sock, solitude, puzzle, doughnut, dear, dear, dear, dear, delicate, breathe-in, life.