I'll never forget yesterday.
Father's Day. After waking up on the hard, hot floor at my parents' house, I trudged the hard, hot quarter mile to the octagon-shaped house on the hill. Easing the door open, I heard joking and laughter. Aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings were gathered around my Grandparents' large kitchen table. Beyond them, pushed against the large sliding glass door, was a hospital bed. The oxygen machine pumping breath into my Grandfather was still purring. He made it through the night, I thought, and shut the door behind me.
The stool next to his bed sighed as I lowered myself onto it. I reached for my Grandfather's hand. It's Brin, I said. Happy Father's Day.
He's on morphine, someone said from the table. He isn't responsive today.
But that didn't stop us from talking to him. Or singing to him. Or telling him jokes or reading to him. At one point I saw my mother draw the stool close and, speaking softly, read from a Father's Day card she pulled from her purse. I love you, Dad, I heard her whisper, and her tears made wet stains on his pillow. That's the last Father's Day card my Mom will ever buy, I thought. My eyes welled with hot tears.
We planned the funeral service, considering favorite songs and Scriptures. My Grandmother copied down the order of service, pausing to ask me to write my Grandfather's obituary. I'd be honored, I said. My mind skipped back through difficult writing assignments: papers for my law degree... stories I'd written as a reporter... my divorce paperwork. This will be the most difficult thing you've ever written, I thought.
Evening came, and stars shone through the sliding glass door behind my Grandfather's bed. My aunts twisted the floor-to-ceiling vertical blinds, shutting out the night. I still have towels to take off the clothesline, my Grandmother said. I volunteered.
The night was still warm, and from somewhere in the darkness, tree frogs sang to the stars. I walked the back porch, pausing at the glass that separated me from my Grandfather. Peering between the slats in the blind, I saw my own father sitting by the bed. He embraced Jack, murmuring something I couldn't make out, and began to cry. As I watched his back rock with sobs, I was surprised to hear another crying. It was me. For twenty minutes, I pressed my forehead to the glass and watched and cried as my father, and later my father and mother, said goodbye.
I'm sure I will never forget yesterday....