Grams doesn’t remember telling me the story of how her and Granddaddy met. She doesn’t even remember Granddaddy anymore.
Mama told me he flew to heaven six years ago before I was born, and now Grams lives alone but I visit her every weekend and she tells me stories. My favorite was the one where she met Granddaddy a long time ago. She tells me about their life together. But now she lives in the hospital, and I asked her to tell me the story of how they met again… but she said she couldn’t remember that one.
Mama said that’s because her memory is fading. She told me Grams won’t be here much longer with us, and that made me sad… but then Mama told me Grams will get to see Granddaddy again in heaven when she leaves us.
I told Grams I’d tell her the story instead since I remember the whole thing. I still like it better when she tells it because she smiles the whole time and plays with the ring that Granddaddy gave her when they got married, except now she can’t remember as good as me.
He was your best friend, Grams. You always told me that. Granddaddy was your very best friend forever and ever no matter what. You met him in the Summer of ’54 in Georgia. You were just 22 and he was the most handsome man who had ever given you flowers. Lots of boys had given you flowers, but you liked Granddaddy the best because his smile made you smile. And he told the best jokes. You always laughed when you were with him, especially on your fifth date when he made you pee your pants. Remember that, Grams? He made you laugh so hard that you peed yourself at the dinner table! You got so embarrassed that you ran to his bathroom, but he followed you in there and gave you a pair of his pajamas. You said you were so humiliated, but then he grabbed you and kissed you. And looked in your eyes to tell you he was falling in love. He didn’t care that you drank a bunch of water and lost control of your bladder or that the water exploded out of your mouth onto his face when he dropped the punchline, or that you turned tomato red as you waddled to his bathroom. He said that the only thing he’ll remember when he’s old is the lovely way you laughed and how pretty you looked that night.
Grams, you always say that the best feeling you ever had was standing in Granddaddy’s bathroom back in Georgia in your pee-soaked pants because that was the moment you fell in love too. It was a moment that took you to a different place and it had been the truest life had ever felt for you.
He made you so happy. And I think he still makes you happy even though he’s not here anymore.
He bought you a red dress to wear on your first anniversary, and it fit you perfectly. You still have it, I think, Grams! Because that’s the night he asked you to marry him. He got down on one knee to propose, and told you that nothing would make him happier than to have you for a wife, to have you for his life. Of course, you said YES.
You spent every day together. He worked during the day and sometimes even during the night in order to save up money to buy a house for the two of you. And, by the Winter of ’57, he had made that dream come true. You thought the house was perfect. It was small and needed a lot of work, but it was the only place you wanted to live with him. And, soon enough, it would be 3 of you in the house because a little baby was on the way. You and Granddaddy were so excited for this next adventure together. That’s what he called it… an adventure!
You told me Granddaddy never really cried or got mad, but the day you found out you lost the baby, he cried for days. He even punched a hole in the living room wall because he was upset that he didn’t get to be a daddy. But you hugged him and told him this dream would come true one day too.
You were right, because the next year you got pregnant with Mama. And Granddaddy was so happy. He built a nursery for the baby and took care of you every day, Grams. You said he was going to be the best father because he cared more about you and the baby than he did for himself. He would protect you and make you both feel safe, and would make your house one of joy and laughter and songs. Granddaddy never let you down, he kept his promise.
He was Mama’s hero. You loved to watch him play with her because he was gentle and caring and always made Mama laugh as a baby too. She even peed her pants a couple times like you! Except she wore diapers and didn’t really seem to get embarrassed.
You lived a happy life with Granddaddy. Even when things got difficult, you were strong because you had each other.
You both made sure Mama grew up in a safe, loving home. And you were both sad when she left for college, but there was still so much love that filled the air in that house.
And when Granddaddy got sick, you never left his side. You told him that he was always strong for you and Mama, and now it was your turn to be strong for him. You both fought his sickness off for a long time, but eventually he had to go. It was the saddest day of your life, you said. But he wasn’t gone forever because you’d see him again one day.
The next week Mama shared the news that she was going to have a baby. Me! And you told Mama that you knew Granddaddy heard the exciting news from heaven, too. Granddaddy would have wanted to meet me because his next dream was to be a grandpa, but Grams told me that he still is one even though he can’t really play with me or teach me how to ride a bike.
He still loves all of us from far away. And he’s still your best friend, Grams. Forever and ever no matter what.
Me and Mama held Grams’ hand as she lay in her hospital bed, and she whispered, “I love you both so much, but it’s time I fly off to be with my best friend now.”