When I was a kid, I would go over to visit my Grandparents fairly often; it was one of my favorite things to do. We did a lot of walking and exploring outside; often, they both would come home with pockets full of stones because of all I would pick up. (I was convinced I was meant to be a scientist.) My Grandma humored me, and put them in jars on her shelf in the dining room. However, we had a special name for them because at this time, I also had a lisp. I would ask if we could look at the ‘tones’ pretty much any time I was there. No matter how many times I visited, or how many years had passed, Grandpa never failed to take them out so we could count or sort them at the dining room table. It has been many years since we have counted ‘tones’, Grandpa, but I still remember.
My Grandfather, Keith, is in the hospital at the moment. It is not very unusual for someone in their eighties to occupy a room in these places from time to time, I suppose. However, for some reason when it is a man you used to count stones and pick blueberries with up on his hill when you were little, it seems to strike a different cord. Its unsettling watching helplessly as his breathing is troubled and his eyes are worried, knowing you can’t do much to help. The best I can offer is smuggling in sweets and coffee. (This is a big problem I have with the medical system at present. The man is eighty five years old. He served in the Navy during WW2, he worked in the coal mines and factories for years upon years to scrape a living for a wife and five kids…give him a piece of cake, for goodness sake. I think he’s earned it.)
Above all else, my Grandpa is a fisherman. There was nothing he liked more than going out and catching a bunch of fish. At one point, I bought him a hat with some sort of lucky fishing logo on it. (It might have been for his birthday or some other occasion.) I remember this hat specifically because he was tickled, and put it on right that day. Don’t you know, the next time he went fishing; he had on his hat and caught his biggest fish! Grandpa was convinced it was his hat, and from that time on, he wore it whenever he went.
While it is a difficult time in one’s life, it reminds you of how important each and every day is. I regret as I grow older that I haven’t spent as much time with my grandparents as I would like. Recalling these memories is much like counting the stones in the jars, each one a certain shape, each one a different color… Between the bustles of every day, some might fall through the cracks…but I want you to know, Grandpa, I haven’t forgotten. I love you for your kindness, your love, and your patience. Thank you for bringing all these things to my life; thank you for counting the ‘tones’ and letting me eat more blueberries than I brought in.