Saturday, April 27, 2013
A Sweet Birthday Card for a Sweet Man
This year my grandpa turns 89. I remember spending lazy days lying next to him on his living room floor, stretched out in the sun, slowly falling asleep. I remember sitting at the kitchen table drinking chocolate milk and watching for birds to fly up to the bird feeder in his rambling cherry tree. He could identify each species, maybe even each bird. I remember slowly rubbing my fingers against the soft white hair on his head as I sat on his lap and sucked my thumb. I remember leaning close to his stubbled cheek and breathing in the tangy scent of garlic powder, which he sprinkled on nearly everything he ate.
I remember helping him in his garden, where the raspberry canes were taller than I was, and I think he used to keep bees out there in his backyard, too. That's why I painted this birthday card for him: a little boy named Billy reaching for a sweet treat from a brimming beehive. Even if he didn't keep bees, I know he loves honey--and of course, he's a sweet man. So it works on many levels.
Now, he sits most days in his wheelchair near that window where we used to nap together. He looks out at the cars and pedestrians and waves. Many of them wave back. He had a stroke about twelve years ago, and his right side never really recovered. But he still beams when he sees me, and he still watches his birds, and he still rides downtown every day on his motorized scooter to get the mail, and everyone in his little village greets him by name. Because he is a wonderful man. And I am so blessed to know him.