Sunday, April 06, 2008

ninety four

He lay in the narrow cot, covered up to his chin by a light cotton blanket. His skin was almost as parchment white as the blanket. His mouth was agape. He was as still as a mountain. I came close to Grandpa, and touched his shoulder gently.

Red-rimmed eyes opened. A slow smile of recognition spread across his pale face. "Hello darling!" he exclaimed. "Happy Birthday Grandpa", I proclaimed proudly.

Later, we sat around a plastic table in a courtyard - Grandpa, my daughter, my son and I. The children drew with pens on scraps of paper from my handbag. Grandpa watched the children as we talked of his health; as I told him a funny story; as he recalled tales from his life. He ran his hand over his grey hair as he declared himself pleased to have reached 94 years of age.

Out of the blue, Grandpa declared earnestly, "I'm staggered by the beauty of those children!". I felt a flash of motherly pride (Yes! Someone else has finally realised! My children are unusually and incredibly beautiful!), before I recalled that Grandpa has quite poor eyesight.

After half an hour, the (astoundingly gorgeous) children and I said our goodbyes. Ben permitted himself to be hugged, and Laura gingerly kissed Grandpa's dry stubbled cheek. Grandpa's eyes watered and he murmured huskily, "I'll never forget this day".

And now, in writing this down, I'll never forget either.


fifi said...

you know, I'm not entirely sure I would LIKE to get to 94...

I'm sure its the positive and cheerful attitude that gets you there!
All children are gorgeous, you only notice this fact as you age though...suddenly their little smooth cheeks shine out at you like jewels.
I'm sure I never paid a little face a second glance when I was young!

Remiman said...

these moments are precious jewels for each who was there, and amazinly, for different reasons.
I think you are the girl we all love and admire because of all the love shown to you by those who raised you!

alice said...

Wonderful. Memories like this are priceless. Enjoy.

Sandy said...

I could feel the love you have for your aged grandpa as you wrote down the events of this day and I'm sure grandpa had a blessed birthday.

shellyC said...

Your Grandpa is a real gem!!

Stomper Girl said...

Sounds like you and your staggeringly beautiful children made your grandfather's Day. Which is a great thing to have done.

thisisme said...

Jelly, that was gorgeous. I'm so glad that your grandfather can enjoy Ben and Laura, and vice versa.

John Cowart said...

This sounds precious!

freefalling said...

My Grandma died 4 years ago on the 11th April aged 94 years and my Nanna died 8 years ago on the llth April, too.
(not that I'm wishing April 11 is a special day for your Grandpa!).
Strangely enough, both these dates coincided with both Vince's cancer diagnoses.
I don't know what the relevance of that is - just weird timing.

Your first paragraph in particular is beautifully written - perfectly descriptive and captures the poignancy of the situation. (Situation isn't the right word, is it? Very impersonal. I don't have your gift for words).

It's kinda like the story has a really bad ending but the bit before the end has parts that are really beautiful and something we are lucky to experience.

Heidi said...

Oh, Jelly... this is simply a beautiful story... precious!

Thank you for sharing with us. I loved it much!

TUFFENUF said...

Jelly, your touching description of grandpa gives me a photo in my minds eye of him - beautiful writing! What great memories your children will have of times with him.

meggie said...

Beautifully written. I have tears in my eyes. I can see the shining beauty of your children, which is what your Grandpa saw, I am sure.
I never want to be so old, but if I have to be, I hope I can see things as your Grandpa does!

mackeydoodle said...

I love hearing stories about your Grampa.
Happy Birthday GrampaJelly.

Noella said...

Hello Jellyhead - I'm a friend of Alice's. This is a beautiful posting that touched me deeply.

My Father died 17 months ago and the last months in particular were bitter-sweet (for his suffering, and for such precious moments). The memories of suffering fade somewhat, but the treasures remain brilliant!

P.S. Alice and I met for the first time recently and spent half a day together, with our hubbies. She is just as wonderful as the way she writes and is now a firm friend for life.

Alice said...

What a lovely memory. Bless you for writing them down; now your children will be able to remember them too in years to come. That's what writing our stories is all about.

PS: That Noella is getting around, isn't she? Loved meeting her and B. after having communicated with her for nearly a year. She's such a warm, generous lady with a wonderful sense of humour (or sense of the ridiculous).

Alipurr said...

very sweet. How precious is the time we have with our grandparents. I love to hear their stories.

that was one thing we did this week after i visited my mom, was go to see my husband's grandmother in the nursing home. That was a precious visit for us too. my girls picked her dandelions and wild violets from the lawn before we went in to see her

lately i have been feeling an urgency to spend more time with all the grandparents, time seems to be going too fast around here

Kerri said...

I truly love your 'grandpa stories'. He is a real gem, and it's wonderful to read of the pleasure these visits obviously bring to you both.
How sweet that your grandpa enjoyed seeing those incredibly beautiful children of yours :)