These are the things we now know..
On a good day,
Grandpa sleeps 5 hours.
A creaking knee has more music than an old jukebox.
A pulse can beat as fast or as slow as it wants to.
After 48 hours, coffee without sugar is just fine.
Discovering these things involved quite a bit of research
And a little spontaneous creativity.
Granddad says he’s done fighting with the night.
He is convinced,
It is the absence of the sun that keeps him restless.
Due to this, we drove west for hours,
Straight through the canyon wall
And past the lakes of browning water.
On only one tank of gas,
We rode deep into the wild wilderness
Just to find a place where he could rest his head and bad back.
“It’s not the back,” he corrects, “It’s my
Hip today. Maybe the hinge is broken or
Maybe the old in me has feasted on all of my oil.”
I love the way he sees himself as both naturalized
And vehiclular when he self-diagnoses.
To me, he is a spaceship covered by the clouds.
Most days he is grateful his eyes can match the sky.
Most days he lives to eagerly tell tales of
his beloved wife, long gone and buried.
Most days he says he misses her smile
But he is in no rush to see it again.
This makes me laugh.
Even in his gray experience,
He is sensible and refined.
He looks young enough to travel the entire world
A few more times.
Afraid of nothing at all but the Lord above,
He looks like death will never reach him
Without a signed permission slip.
There are no accidents in his sight.
I hold him close to my heart and
For the first time in my life I
Hear him speak about the pains of age
In a way that makes my foot ease off of the gas.
We slow talk one another well into the night
And all the way up to a pink-orange morning.
Our tones rise and fall with the sun
Much like the music we avoid.
What’s the hurry anyway,
When we are moving without a sound destination?
I imagine we are not making vault-like memories.
I imagine there is no thoughts of reminiscing moving into the future.
We are just taking ourselves on a drive
And listening to how loudly his knees can
creak in a bouncing car.
We are two days in before he dozes off to sleep.
His breathing is so light and even that
Periodically, I have to check his pulse.
After a few miles, It doesn’t scare me to do so.
I am grateful he is able to rest in spite of all the potholes.
For 5 hours, in his absence, I listened to the truck engine hum.
I made friends at the rest areas.
I ate kettle cooked chips and drank rootbeer.
I made out the shapes of clouds.
I read the signs along the roadside.
I compiled them into a book inside my mind
Until I became expert at signage and
Somewhere on the horizon of the second day,
My grandfather awakes (again without my grandmother),
But he is still happy to do so.
So happy that he doesn’t complain about the back or hip.
He clears his throat and asks for coffee,
As if he is right at home out on the open road.
(Photo found on pinterest)