Those were progressive sexual politics for a Baptist

His speech was getting worse, but if you looked in his eyes you could see he knew what he wanted to say. His body just wouldn’t let him do it.

Eventually nursing homes start to feel like the last half of the movie Aliens, when they go into the subbasement. It’s people glued to walls who, if you’re listening, are just begging you to kill them.

So I stopped going as often

Every week the woman who kept robbing his room told she’d give me back my grandfather’s hoodie if I filled a request. “Just throw me out of the window.“

I wanted to say, “Madame, if you fell out of your chair you would shatter. If I threw you out the window you’d look like an expressionist painting.”

Days fishing, trips to museums, his explanation that Deanna Troi and William Riker on Star Trek were from another world so their sexual relationship wasn’t the immoral kind, just a different sort of marriage

He was a man of dignity, and as time wore on he just got worse. Eventually he could barely even give single word answers and was on a diet of “thick nectar” because he could seldom handle solid food.

Worst of all he had to wear sweat suits every day. For a man who wore a suit six days a week it felt like spending purgatory in a TJ Max; a seemingly unending existence where you’d always look sort of shabby.

Sometimes a week or two would pass without me going to visit him. I worried that I had a finite amount of memories, and creating new sad ones would somehow record over the happy old ones.

On the good days I visited we would play a crude game of catch that was mostly just him squeezing a Nerf ball. When he wasn’t aware, or able, to respond I’d comb his hair. He liked that.

In , after several months of not being able to eat my Granddaddy requested breakfast; a real breakfast. Or at least as close as hospital food comes to being real food.

Not just the “nectar” they’d been feeding him. He ate his first full meal in months. When the nurse came back around lunch to see if he was hungry again, she found he had passed.

Driving to his funeral I called my dad panicking because I had left the cookie I was planning on placing inside his casket, a final dessert, at home. He informed me he’d already covered it, and asked that I not mention the chocolate chip cookie he’d placed in his jacket pocket to my grandmother. We knew he’d appreciate the last shot at dessert, but she probably would have told us we were being disrespectful. At least it wasn’t a piece of German Chocolate cake. My brother and I thought about it, but the logistics were impossible.

Walking into the funeral home all I could remember was the last few years and it made me angry. The happy memories were gone; in their place I remember thieving old ladies and how even though he’d gotten to go to my wedding he was mostly out of it for the day.

He was wearing a suit; a glorious suit. He looked like how I remembered him. Like what he told a man was supposed to look like. He looked at peace.

I remembered the first time he met the woman I married, then in high school, and told me a man tucks his shirt in when he’s on a date with a nice lady.