I never forgot about you.

by karla
(US)

It has been almost 8 years since I last saw my grandfather. I was never close to him seeing as how even when we lived in the same country I did not see him too often. I lived at his house with my parents and grandmother when I was five years old. We stayed there for almost a year because we were waiting for our house in the city to be finished. After we moved to the city we visited my grandparents 3-4 times a month, and although I did not like journey from the city to the country side; once I was there I didn’t want to leave.

8 years later we moved to a different country and for the first year or so I stayed in touch with my grandparents and I would talk to both of them for five minutes or so but never more than that, because I never knew what to say to them. The conversation with both of them always started and ended the same way. I would tell them that I had been ok since the last time we had spoken, then I would comment on school and how well I was doing, and the conversation would end by me telling them that I had been eating healthy.
After a year or so, my parents separated and my father moved out. I stayed with my mother and even thought she was no longer living with my dad she would keep in touch with both my grandparents rather often. After my father moved out I felt like I no longer HAD to talk to my grandparents so every time I knew my mom was on the phone with them I would ask her not to give it to me because I didn’t have anything to talk about with them. I kept doing this more and more often until my mother wouldn’t even ask me if I wanted to talk to them. Every time I saw my father I would ask them about my grandparents mostly because I felt like I had to. He would tell me if how they were doing but the conversation would end after that.

About a year ago my grandfather suffered a stroke, so these were major news and I was informed that my grandfather started having problem remembering people, sometime even my grandmother. I still wouldn’t talk to him, I was afraid he wouldn’t know who I or that I wouldn’t have anything to say besides how are you doing? My grandfather later had 2 more strokes that left him almost unable to move. A few months ago my father decided to go visit him for a week because he said that he had a feeling that my grandfather was going to die soon. When my father came back he said that he could see that my grandfather was really sick and that he was also suffering a lot. Something in my head kept telling me: don’t worry at least he is still alive. It had already been almost 8 years since I had last seen and spoken to my grandfather. By now I knew that it was already too late to talk to him but I should have even if he had no idea who I was.

Today at around 11am my house phone rang. At first I thought it was my job calling, hoping that I could come in earlier. I was slightly annoyed because I have repeatedly told my mother to check the caller ID before answering the phone, because Sunday is the only other day of the week when I get to sleep in. I soon realized that it was my father because of the way my mother was talking to the person on the other end. Her voice went from normal to tragic. My first thought was that something had happened to my dad, a car accident or such. So I jumped out of bed and immediately asked my mother what was going on, she closed her eyes and started crying and gave me the phone. I asked my father what was happening and he told me that his father my grandpa had just died.

I didn’t cry right away nor did I know what to say. I told my dad that I was going to be home the whole day and to stop by whenever. The conversation was less than 2 minutes long and after my father told me to make sure that my mom was okay we both hung up. I said to my mom: things happen, and we gotta keep on going. I then once again grabbed my house phone and called my boss and told her I could not come in. I could have gone to work, I actually wanted to, but something inside of me was telling me that it was a better idea to stay home, in case my father decided to stop by. I then put myself in his shoes and started thinking about the pain he was feeling inside. Although everyone in the family knew my grandfather was really sick, you are never truly prepared to welcome death. I started thinking about my own pain if ever lost my father. After my parents separated both my father and I grew apart but to me he is still my religion.

I still haven’t cried, a tear has escaped my eye here and there, but I think that since I was never really close to my grandfather I am not experiencing sadness as the rest of my family is. I do remember him though, I never forgot about him. I forgot how he used to make fun of me during meal times, when it would take me up to 2 hours to sort of finish my meal and then tell my mother that I was only going to drink the juice instead. If I am not much mistaken, I remember a few times he gave half of my food to the dogs to help me out so I wouldn’t get in trouble with my mother. I remember him walking away from the house and going to work with his hat on and his back pack on one shoulder. I remember him sitting at his dining table and reaching for the salt container where he would keep peppers and sometime pieces of meat. I remember him putting his hat on top of a small chicken coup where I once had one chicken that months after my mother killed and made a soup out of, and didn’t tell me it was my chicken until I had already eaten it. I remember him yelling at the dogs whenever they begged for food at the dinner table. I remember him putting cologne on the gods because he didn’t like it. I remember him never leaving with us to go to church but rather meeting us there. I remember almost always sitting towards the front with my grandmother and mom, and looking back every now and then during the mass just to see him sitting somewhere in the back looking straight ahead. I remember standing in the middle of the dining room and looking out at field and seeing him work on it with such dedication and experience. I remember him so well, and at the same time I realize how those memories now are almost a dream.

He was real though I know that for a fact, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I am sorry for never showing you how much you really meant to me, and how you never left my mind and heart. I didn’t mean to disappear or make you think that to me you did not matter, because you did, way more than I could ever explain. You were the last grandfather I had left, and although I should have said this in person I want to thank you for the amazing father that you gave me, and for showing me that you loved me and never forgot about me, even when we no longer spoke. I will never forget your voice, you smile, your pranks, your stories and even though I am no longer the little girl you last saw, I will always be your granddaughter, and I hope more than anything that all the stories about heaven that tell of a place where you get to see everyone you have lost and be with them forever, are true so can once again see you and tell you everything that in life I couldn’t but wanted to so bad.

Rest in peace Papatevo.

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