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The Long Goodbye
The Long Goodbye


visits with my great-grandfather are always bittersweet. He was a great man in his day. A proud warrior in World War 2 - he saved the lives of his comrades and civillians often, and fought bravely against the Japanese. He worked hard all his life, worked endlessly, to make a life for his children, grand children and great grandchildren.
He was a strong, powerful man. A decorated warrior, devoted to his family......and now........

.....and now........he's going. slowly.

we began to notice a few years ago....when he would forget appointments and birthdays.....then....slowly, he began to forget larger things.....dates, times of the year.....hours of the day......then he would forget to say his prayers.....but we mostly would pretend not to notice. i guess we thought if we ignored it.....maybe it would go away....

....then he forgets more......he forgets to change his clothes....forgets to feed his animals......eventually he would forget to feed himself.

so i visit once in a while....walk up to the trailer.....up the red steps....

he always sits there.....petting his cats. looking at nothing in particular. then i try to talk to him.....talk to him....about anything....

he looks at me....and trys hard to remember. he trys to remember who i am.....

im your grandson, remember? remember me, papa? remember when you held me in your arms? remember when your whiskers would tickle my face when we hugged? do you remember me, papa?

then the tears well up in my eyes. i want to fall down and cry......but i must be strong.....so i stand up tall and push the tears back down.

and he just sits there. his dark brown eyes staring at nothing.....then at me.....then back to nothing.

i get his check from the government. i tell him to endorse it so i can deposit it for him.

he gets out his pen and trys to write.....but instead he looks at me again. a look of confusion in his face......he grunts something under his breath....

he forgot how to write his name.

now the tears shoot up into my eyes like a bolt of lightning. but i force them back down. i must be strong.....

so i tell him......

youre name is.....Edward Wilson...and then i spell it for him....E-D-W-A-R-D W-I-L-S-O-N

he can barely write on the paper....i guide his hand as he scribbles his name.....

i thank him....and he smiles back. i walk out into the living room of their little trailer and kiss my grandmother goodbye. i say my farwells....blessings to them all....and leave.

as i drive home.....i feel the sadness welling up again. so i push it back down. like i always have.
i cant help but feel every time i see him....it will be the last.

so that night i say an few more prayers for him and slip into bed.....

.....the Long Goodbye.....so long.....and so painful........