• My Favorite Old Person
    Dedicated to my dearly beloved grandfather.


    I grew up not knowing my father. He stopped visiting when I was but a year old and finally moved away from the city when I filled two.

    So instead of growing up with a mother and a father, I grew up with three parents; my mother, my grandma and my grandpa. My relationship with them differed, but my relationship with all of them was that of a child to its parents.

    With my mum, I can tell her almost everything really. She's the one I talk to about school, friends or whatever. I know there is very little in this world that I could tell her that would make her mad, as long as I don't lie to her. It's a comforting thought.

    My relationship with my grandmother is different. I don't really tell her anything worrisome at all. She just has this… quiet warmth. Whenever I'm there, she asks me if I want fried eggs for breakfast, or if she should take up some homemade blueberry-jam from the freezer. Whenever I'm broke, she gives me some pocket-change. She really cares, - and worries, about me.

    However, my relationship with my grandpa was different. While my relationship with my mother and grandmother was on a verbal and emotional level, it was different with him.

    Grandpa was a man of few words. He wasn't a sappy man at all. Rather old fashioned in the way he was. After all, back in the day's men weren't supposed to show much of their inner turmoil and emotions. Grandpa was a man who followed that principle.

    He wasn't a man to tell people he cared. He wasn't a man who told people if and when he was troubled. Grandpa lost his mother at the young age of twelve, and despite it most likely being a traumatizing experience, grandpa's brother told us he never talked about it.

    With grandpa, things went unsaid. But they were conveyed in other methods. Despite all the things that went unsaid, he always knew we loved him, just as we knew he loved us.

    Grandpa wasn't my mother's father. He had no children of his own. However, my grandma's ex-husband died when my mother was but eight years old. And so, grandpa became as a father to her once he and my grandma got together.

    My relationship with my grandpa was that of parental physical affection. I don't have that with my mother. I remember, - when I was about five years old, that I sat thinking how I didn't even remember the last time I sat on my mother's lap.

    However, I was always very affectionate with my grandparents – especially my grandpa. I remember sitting on his lap, half asleep, watching television while listening to his heartbeat. I remember him lifting me up and holding me upside down. I remember him tickling me till tears ran down my face. Not that the last one is so hard to remember – it happened just about two months ago.

    Grandpa was also a prankster at times. A few years ago on the 1st of April, he called me early in the morning, and told me to go outside. I was so tired, that I didn't even find that odd… So he managed to trick me into go outside in my pyjamas. It was a cold experience…

    Another time, when we were at the cabin – the cabin that he had built himself – a friend of mine came with us. At night, when we were just going to go and get ready for bed, he had sneaked into the room, and hid. When my friend entered, she saw him. She was so startled, that she let out a high-pitched scream and fell down on her bum.

    Grandma told me a few days later that she'd started to laugh while she'd been half asleep because the incidence popped into her mind.

    After that, grandpa gave my friend a nickname. "Redd-hare".

    Sometimes, when we left after a visit, my grandpa had snuck out of the house just minutes before, and threw snowballs at us as we were leaving. My friend got vengeance one day; she threw a snowball at him when he was sitting in the car.

    We also had this game we always played. Who hit the other last. It was technically us against him. Most of the time, we won, but he got a victory every now and then.

    I won the last time the same day that he went to Spain.

    One of the things I loved about my grandpa was the knowledge that I could just go up to him and hug him, and he wouldn't wonder or ask why. He was the only person I could do that to. Both my mum and my grandma would've asked me what was wrong.

    Another thing is that whenever I was cold on my hands – which is more often than not during the winter – grandpa would take my hands in his, and warm them up; all the while complaining that my blood-circulation was awful.

    On the 5th December, the same day as he was going to Puerto Rico, he drove me home from their house. He often did that – driving me to places or picking me up. As long as he was home and not on the sea or at the cabin, he always came and picked me up if I asked him. Grandma told me that he often went in the middle of his dinner, saying that he'd drive me first.

    On that day, before I went out I gave him a hug, and I noticed that his fingers were cold. I took his hand in mine, and laughed, saying that for once he had cold fingers while I didn't. He smiled, and said that he wouldn't be cold for long. After all, he was going to Puerto Rico, which has quite the warm climate even in the winter.

    Two days later, he was dead. Collapsed of a heart-attack outside his hotel. He was dead before he even hit the ground.

    Eight days later, we got to see him, grandma, mother, Per – one of his brothers – and I. He was dressed in a white shirt (he'd never been one for suits. Therefore grandma chose to have him in those shirts) with a beautiful white blanket with intricate silver markings woven into it. A white handkerchief was placed under his hands, which were folded over his upper stomach.

    My grandma and I placed a single rose each on each side of him. I also placed an envelope with a card I had bought and written a message on. The card was green – one of those "What is a grandfather" cards you can buy in stores.

    Grandpa had this odd way of shaving his mustach. He shaved the upper part of it. So it was really only half a mustach.

    Now, he had a small wound on his upper lip. On his chin there was a friction wound, which was black due to the dried blood and the dirt that had been mixed with it. He also had a small cut on his forehead that ran slightly into his hairline. There was also a cut on the back of his hand, another proof that he'd been dead when he hit the ground. If he had been alive, he would've caught himself as he fell. But there were no wounds on his palms.

    His ears were slightly gray in colour. The same colour was around his right eye. He'd been dead then for eight days.

    But other than that, it looked like he used to when he was taking an after-dinner nap. Except… his eyes were closed. Grandpa always slept with half-opened eyes.

    His hands… they didn't look like his hands. They were yellow. The nails were bluish-black. The hands were hard and so terribly cold. That was the worst part. Grandpa's hands were always slightly dirty looking, despite being clean, due to the oil that had sunk into his pores over the years of working as a mechanic. They were callous, and most of the time very warm.

    I have mixed feelings about my decision to see him.

    On one hand, I needed to see him. I needed to see him, because if I didn't, I'd never be able to believe him to be dead.

    But now the memory most forward in my mind is of a wounded mustach and of icy, yellow hands.

    And now, all that remains of my favourite old person is mantras and thoughts and bittersweet memories and dreams and a rotting body in a coffin buried six feet under.