He’s sick. His eyes are gleaming with fever and sorrow, and when he stands up from the bed he sways.
I just feel a bit faint, he exclaims when I laugh gently at him.
I know baby, that’s why I laughed, you withering flower you.
He comes to the couch, and tumbles on top of me, more clumsily than usual.
I got a bit sad, he says and hides behind my hair, hugs me. When mom called about the funeral.
Yeah? Why are you sad?
No one close to me has ever died before, he answers tears breaking his words.
I pull him close. I hug him, I kiss him, and I tear up too.
I know baby, I know. But I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.
I make him soup and then I make him tea and offer him honey.
Some honey would do good to you, baby.
You are so wonderful, he says. He’s reassured of my love when I offer these simple acts of it. I do the dishes. I check on him in the bed, pull the covers over his feet, caress him and leave to do my own work.
It’s easy when you are so wonderful, I answer.
I watch him dig himself under the covers with the tea. He starts playing the guitar, a country song by John Denver, Take me home, Country roads, but at a slower pace. It sounds achingly beautiful and sad. He was not a gentle man, not a patient man. He alienated those closest to him, left no reassurences of love and devotion. But he was his grandfather.
They asked for him to play at the ceremony, but he said no. It’s too much. But we have this ceremony here. For those gone ahead.