My mind won't stop running the memories, no matter what I do. I would like a break. Day 5 without my Granpo on earth. As the funeral procession made it's way on Highway 90 from Del Rio to Brackettville, the town of his birth, I found myself confused. I felt six years old looking out the window. My body felt small. My husband drove and my mother and little girl were in the back seat but I couldn't stop feeling like a child.
Along the highway, men at old tire shops and outside their homes working on cars took off their hats and held them at their chest as they bowed their heads when we drove by. On the street that led to the cemetery, people on porches bowed their heads.
Brackettville still has a few dirt streets lined with tiny, wooden houses that were probably next to new 93 years ago. I saw little boys playing on the street and remembered his stories of growing up there, all the stray dogs he'd find and keep. I sat in front of his casket, a pale wooden one I picked out because it was oak and reminded me of the furniture he'd refinish and his love of trees. Taps played and there was a twenty-one gun salute. One of the last WWII veterans from the area was gone.
My husband stood across from me, a pallbearer. He has rough hands like my grandfather had.
I awoke at 4:40 am on Tuesday morning and there was a light rain. I wondered if my grandfather was still alive. He was in the hospital. Usually, I remain awake for at least an hour when I get up in the middle of the night. I was overwhelmed with such a heavy drowsiness that I couldn't fight it. I thought this was strange and gave in. As I began to drift off to sleep I prayed a Hail Mary for my Granpo.
In my dream I was with my best friends and we were in high school again. Suddenly I was in my grandfather's old room. I made my way to their pink bathroom and there I found the toilet was missing. There were studs near the shower and I could see a lush and green backyard from the bathroom window. I exclaimed, "Granpo is back, he's back!" I was so happy and excited. I felt a huge relief and was genuinely happy down to the core. There were no other feelings, no worries, no concerns, no thoughts, complete freedom and happiness and love. I felt he was behind me and when I turned all I saw was a yellow, almost golden light. I was so happy and and felt so close to my Granpo. I was then pulled out of the dream and saw my bedroom window. The contrast between where I was and where I found myself was something that made me wonder what was going on. I was still coasting on the remnants of the most beautiful dream I have ever had but becoming depressed as it began to seep out of the present. I checked the time and it was 6:01 or 6:11. I just remained still and looked at that dark window in my room and tried to think if I had just seen my grandfather or not. I felt I had seen him and that I had heard him but in my dream it seemed I didn't see him and the voice was in my head. He was back to fixing up the house again and being active. I then picked up my phone and saw that it was now 7:15. I read that my grandfather had passed away sometime around 5am.
My grandmother said he had been clutching something in his hand and she asked what it was he had. He said it was money to give me so I could eat and buy groceries. Something my grandparents would do when I was in college. There was nothing in his hand. My grandmother said he held her face and said that he has always loved her.
If I feel this sadness, I wonder what hers must be like. She was with him since she was 16 years old. "He was my favorite guy", she said.
Friday was the final drive on Highway 90 with my grandfather. For years we'd both go up and down that highway. He'd pick me up from college and bring me home, then take me back up. He wanted me to get a piece of land and get some goats and chickens...
At his visitation I didn't want to leave him. I knew he was gone but he was wearing the clothing I picked out for him and looked so handsome, like his photos. Sleeping like the morning I said good bye for the last time. We woke him up and gave him hugs and kisses.
The memories won't stop. They started flowing once my tears stopped. It's Granpo at age 70, a very young 70, when he still kept chickens and did heavy yard work. It's Granpo picking me up from school when I was ten, and then from high school. It's Granpo, taking me to buy groceries at the grocery store on Red River here in Austin. It's Granpo waiting in the car while I buy new underwear at the outlet store. It's Granpo taking out an old, vintage fan from his trunk and bringing it to the garage apartment I was renting where my dog died. It's Granpo who I saw almost three weeks ago, sitting next to me eating his lunch. I remember his scent when I kissed his head every time I said good bye that week I was visiting. I had reached for my phone to show him something and forgot what it was. I told him I forgot what it was I was going to show him and just couldn't remember. I remembered the morning he died. I wanted to play him "Oh Marie" the old Louis Prima song. I knew it was a favorite of his and I just wanted to give him a pick me up that day and talk about it.
"Granpo, I love you and I'll miss you" was what I said when I left him three weeks ago. He was going strong. I didn't expect a funeral any time soon.
Leaving Del Rio was difficult. A cousin had invited us to stop at her ranch on the way out. It's something my Granpo had always wanted me to do, to stop at this cousin's house and look at her land, he said it was pretty. I always said I would then never did because I didn't know where it was exactly and I didn't know this cousin and felt awkward stopping by. At the visitation my cousin introduced herself and when I realized who she was I told her I was always told to stop by. On Saturday I found myself touring her beautiful ranch. Being with someone who had his eyes and hands as we drove past mesquite and cactus along the rock bottom Pinto River was what I needed. But I couldn't shut off the memories. It was Granpo at 55 or so when he came with us to Seminole Canyon and Langtry.
It's now... the last time I bought groceries, Granpo was still alive. The last time I saw so and so, Granpo was still alive. Jacob gave me the fig tree when Granpo was still alive. All the things that were done while Granpo was still alive.
In my drawer is one of his ties that he left still tied from the last time he wore it. There is also a white handkerchief. When I smell them, its his cologne and my grandmother's laundry soap. When I smell them, I see the morning sunrise at his bedroom window, make my way to the kitchen where he's at the vintage, metal turquoise table drinking coffee, the radio playing Tradio and my grandmother laughing while the washing machine is running loudly in their laundry room. One of those days with both of them that was all sunshine.
I need to wake up.