Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hold What You Got

I'm reminded today of all the hours spent in the back room of my grandfather's house. He had fashioned it into an office and bar. Stocked with his choice of liquor and soft drinks for me and my brother, it was the first place I ran when we came to visit. I knew that's where he'd be. I'd climb up on a stool and order up a coke and we'd sit and listen to stories until my grandmother had dinner ready. Even if I had heard the stories a hundred times before I loved every minute of it. I can still recite most of them now, probably better than he can remember them himself.

Now, in the twilight of his life, he still prides himself on telling me a good story. Today he sat in his hospital bed, in pain from the chest tube they had just replaced. He still smiled, though I know it hurt, and told me stories. Though drastically different a circumstance, I found myself delighted and engrossed in every word he said. For a time, I almost forgot that we were sitting in a room at St. Mary's awaiting the next nurse to come in.

As I got ready to leave the hospital today, he told me something I had never heard him say before. He said, "Don't work too much. I was always happier and felt better when I was poor." It may have just been the morphine talking but that just hit me and hasn't left my mind these past few hours. I think it was his way of telling me that I need to come visit more often. Generally, work is my excuse for not attending a family function or holiday. I sit in uniform at work wishing I could be with Devin and listening to him tell her his stories. She's a new set of ears as far as he's concerned. She might actually believe that he picked up a car for an RC cola.

I fill my days off with so many things of unimportance. I delude myself into believing that I don't have time for things. The reality is that I must make time. I'm glad I was reminded of that today.