"A Memory LOST, but Never FORGOTTEN"
"King me!" he said as I carefully twisted the Oreo apart, placing the bitter, sweet half on my yearning tongue, the chocolate melting in my mouth as I eagerly waited for the whole thing to melt before taking another sip of cold, sweet milk. It may have been just another Saturday morning, but not in the eyes of my grandfather. "Each day is a blessing given to us by God, and the day we die will be the happiest moment of our lives." He would tell me this time and time again. I never fully knew what he meant until it was too late to ask.
At the crack of dawn, you could wake up to the sweet aroma of coffee brewing. The gentleness of small children sleeping could be felt all around the house. The birds singing songs of love and peace to those up early enough to savor every moment of the new world to another calm summer morning.
Playing Oreo checkers was a normal occurance between my grandfather and me. A tradition that began long before I can remember, and ending with the day of his death. "It wasn't supposed to end this way," I told myself. "You were to keep up the tradition, but you failed." I was so hard on myself with his death. I blamed myself for not noticing all the signs of the tumor staring me in the face.
A not so silent good morning erupted from a deep, scratchy, I just woke up, don't talk to me until I've had my coffee, voice. It was a voice many young children learned to fear and respect. It was a voice that carried with the wind in every direction. This was the voice of my loving grandmother.
"Don't eat too many Oreos, I'll be starting breakfast soon and I expect you to clean your plate."
"Yes ma'am," both my grandfather and I said simultaneously.
This, of all mornings, floods my memory as I walked through the threshold of the wide hospital door. I carried all the trophies I'd earned at the dance competition that same morning.
The man lying in the bed was not the man I had known and loved my entire life. No, the lifeless heap entangled in a mess of sheets with eleven staples in his head doesn't even remember my name, let alone that I am his oldest granddaughter.
I try not to stare at his cold, pale skin, his untidy handlebar mustache, or his half shaved head. The air is cold, as if death has already taken its final breath.
Thinking back to the day I first stepped on Texas soil, I can remember rolling on the floor in laughter with the continuous "race to the ribs" game my papa and I played together. I try to feel the same way toward the man in the room with us, but all I can accomplish is holding back the tears as they start to flow from my eyes, streaking my face with the caked on mascara and eyeliner I wore at the dance competition.
My papa's nurse walks through the door with purpose, completely forgetting why she came in. She stares in awe at the trophies overcrowding the windowsill mixed in with the flowers and balloons we brought in.
Everyone decides it is best to leave while the nurse does her hourly post surgery check-up. I start to follow everyone, but am stopped by the nurse's conversation with my grandfather. "Who is the pretty young lady with all the trophies?"
"I'm not going to tell you her name, you have to guess," he said to her jokingly. He said this because he couldn't remember who I was. I ran out of the room crying hysterically.
To this day I still don't know if he ever remembered me after the surgery. Part of me wants to believe he did, but the other part of me says he didn't. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about it. I often wonder if the surgery did anything at all, or if it was just a big waste of hope.
We all knew he was going to die sooner or later, so why have the surgery? Maybe it gave us just enough time to say goodbye, maybe it was God's way of letting us let go. We will never know, but eventually, in time, God will show us His true reason for why He did the things He did, in the order He did them.
I don't think I will ever be able to eat an Oreo without thinking about my ever-loving grandfather. Then again, this was the man who did a lot of things crazy so we would never let go and never forget. I believe he lived his life to the best of his ability, and never missed an opportunity to say "I love you," even if it was just by waking me up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to create the best memory I will never forget.