My grandfather (mom’s dad) passed away on Monday afternoon. 92 years old, married to my grandmother for over 65 years – such a beautiful, full life. Since I’ll be going out of town tomorrow and then probably returning over the weekend to work that retreat, I will be off the blog for the rest of the week – but I just wanted to pop in to ask for your prayers for my Paw-Paw and our family. I also thought I’d share a poem I wrote about him back in 2007, one of my favorites.
To my grandfather, while eating
In the kitchen with my eggs and toast, I heard you
Hammering down the wrinkled boards with halting steps
Like an un-oiled machine, top-heavy, nearly doubled-over
Since you made the cane your enemy.
As the percolator gurgled on the stove
Your denial rumbled through the house like thunder.
At lunchtime, you made it to the table first (sans cane)
So I had to stoop to kiss your snowy brow
Which, underneath its untamed bit of fleece,
Was spotted and uneven as a topographic map.
Curious to know if I’d been eating enough,
You pinched my waist with your great knotted fingers.
I didn’t eat enough, you said at dinner,
Scattered crumbs and wagged a crooked finger.
We ate jambalaya from a box that evening,
And you protested your vegetables and
Thought the sweet potatoes tasted strange.
You were stiff and stubborn, so I held my tongue.
You weren’t always so rough. I’ve seen you then –
A polished photo in cool black and white,
You’re stretched out smoking languidly in bed
With your eyes closed and your dark hair nicely combed,
Your lonely uniform draped over a chair;
Yes, once you were Gregory Peck at a hotel in Rome.
Now there’s your halting step, your unkempt hair,
Your hands, sun-tanned, knuckles swollen with age,
Your hands that shudder as they hold the spoon;
Yet your brown eyes are warm, your steady gaze
Unchanged, and when you grin and wink at me
Over your ice cream, I have to wink back.