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The Moment, Part Two

This is a follow-up to a piece I wrote shortly after my grandfather's death five years ago in an attempt to process his death. If you haven't already read that, then don't go any further until you've done so here.

The Moment, Part Two 

It’s the moment when you’re pushing yourself to your feet to go grab something from your bedroom and that old familiar quack fills your ears like you never thought it would again. You look over in the direction the sound comes from, and find yourself staring at your fourteen year old nephew’s gleeful face from across the room. “That sounds just like…” is what you find yourself saying once you’ve overcome the shock and the tears pricking at your eyelids, and the laugh of wonderment that leaves your lips is one every person in the room understands. “I know,” your older sister replies.

Months later, it is followed by a similar quack from your sixteen month old nephew who happily experiments with any and all possible sounds. It catches you in exactly the same way as the last time you heard it.

It’s the moment when you have a space moment to pop in and visit Grandma. And maybe finish another picture page or two for the family history while you’re at it. As always, you find yourself sorting through one stack of pictures or another, because Grandma and Grandpa took thousands of pictures in their sixty-five years together. It’s some of the best amateur photography you’ve ever seen.

The first is a stack you’ve been through a million times, but you like the familiarity of the motion, so you don’t immediately comment about it. You pause at the picture of Grandma as a young woman bent over to coax a deer into coming close. This one always makes you smile. When Grandma asks which picture you’re looking at, you hand it over to her. Before you know it, she’s happily recalling a trip with Grandpa to Yosemite in the early days of their marriage. You don’t tune it out because there’s always a new detail that emerges when she retells it. Usually it’s about Grandpa, and Grandma was always the one to tell stories (even his). You turn in your chair, lean forward, and give the story your full attention.

It’s the moment when you roll over in bed to turn off the alarm, and the clock says 4:15 AM, not PM. You don’t turn it off and go back to sleep. Instead, you pull yourself out of bed and get yourself ready for work. Keys in hand, you glance at the clock on the stove on your way towards the front door. 4:45 AM. The crazy part is that this isn’t crazy anymore. It’s what you do so that you can go do the work you love (and do it well). Just like he did, you tell yourself.

It’s the moment when your sister comes into your room to show you something on her cell phone. The conversation veers quickly away from that and towards that day five years ago. The day the news came with the touch of a shoulder (for you) and a commander at the door (for her). You laugh and you cry because the memories are hard to share, but it is so good to hear at the same time. As she gets up to leave, you finally find the words that have been sitting on the tip of your tongue for months now – ever since the moment you first heard that quack fall from your nephew’s lips.

Because this is the moment you finally realize that even though Grandpa’s gone, pieces of him are still here.


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