And All the World is Gray

In 2017, at the celebration of my grandparents’ 60th anniversary, my uncle Mark asked what it was that they wanted their children and grandchildren to learn from them; my grandpa answered:

“The most important thing, no matter who you are, is not to be prejudiced as you grow up. Mind your elders. Be friends with everybody. You want love and friendship and that’s the way I am. I hope my kids and their grandkids find someone and they treat them how I treated Monette.”

I typed those words into the notes app my phone, trusting auto-correct because my sight was blurred by tears similar to those I have while typing this now, and was glad that my uncle had asked that question even though it alluded to the day that my grandparents would no longer be here with us; for Richard Diaz, my grandpa, that day has come.

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Decisions

I can’t get up on my own
anymore, darling.
I can’t support myself,
or you.

I am tired, and scared, and I
see the end coming
closer each day.
I know I am experiencing many things
for the last time, but
I dwell too much on that
fact to enjoy them.

The kids make sacrifices for
us, and they’re willing to do
even more.
But in our stubborn refusal,
we are wearing them thin.

We made our own way, and
we have been strong,
but I am weak;
I cannot pretend to be
anything else anymore.

I am tired, my love.
You can’t keep laughing off
my frailty as little lapses in concentration.

We need help, and we need
to get it while we can still benefit.
I love you, and I don’t
want to disappoint you, but
I’m nearing the edge and we
need to have some
tough conversations.

We can’t continue in denial.
Death will come; that’s inevitable.
When I meet my creator, I want to do so
with dignity;
not as a dusty husk.

I am so proud of
you, of
us, of
our children and
grandchildren and
great-grandchildren.

We have come so far, and there is a
little further to go, but
some difficult decisions remain
before we separate
and reunite.

by Erik Shinker

A Song for Marilyn and George

Grandparents seem to fall into one of two distinct groups: they can be unknowable entities that we are forced to visit through obligation; shriveled creatures who seemingly live on another plane of existence as relics of times gone by. Or, they can be loving mentors that support us and willingly give sage advice; human teddy bears who want to see us succeed in life and look forward to our accomplishments. I have been lucky enough to have the second type on both sides of my family. My maternal grandparents are still living to this day; this is my remembrance and tribute to the two no longer with us.

Continue reading “A Song for Marilyn and George”