Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The last time I saw my grandpa (on my dad’s side) alive he was eighty nine years old, bedridden, decrepit, missing teeth, dying of cancer, and all this with a smile on his face.  He was a mirror to my projected future – old age, sickness and death.  Like Ashvaghosha’s Life of Buddha I was the perturbed Prince encountering the all too real truths of life.  And during this encounter, my grandpa and I tried our best to speak to one another, but that had always been a difficult endeavor because he spoke only Spanish, and I understand only bits and pieces of it.  And on top of that it took him a lot of energy just to say a few words, and many of those words were slurred and mumbled.  One of my cousins stepped in to serve as interpreter the best she could.  After we discussed various matters pertaining to our mutual lives, I asked if he was up for a game of dominoes, his favorite game and mine too.  He said (with a hint of embarrassment) that he had forgotten how to play.  And that struck me to the core, not that I wanted to play dominoes that bad, or that the game itself was even that important, but the idea that he forgot how to play something he loved so much was so, so symbolic of him dying to this world.  Picture Michael Jordan on his deathbed forgetting what the game of basketball was or Muhammad Ali forgetting about boxing.  That just wouldn’t be right, but that’s how it was.  Eventually, it came time for us to say our goodbyes, and his last words to me were, “Nunca olvides que tu madre y tu padre” (“Never forget your mother and your father”).  These words will always be kept in my heart, but I must admit I’m glad he didn’t say - never DISOBEY your mother and your father because that would be a much more trying task.

When I was in my child form, my grandpa would always tell me that I should be an astronauta (astronaut), which is something that never really interested me.  I just was never much into physics and spaceships and black holes.  Stuff like Star Trek didn’t appeal to me.  But now that he has vanished into the great beyond, a little something inside me kind of wishes I could maybe go to the moon, or Mars, or some distant universe.  I'm not sure what I would do if I ever actually went into outer space, but maybe I would simply look out into the heavens and say, “Estoy aqui abuelo.  Estoy aqui.”

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