I can close my eyes and still
feel the warm hugs of last year’s Summer;
taste the ocean’s salt on my tongue.
Check out the full poem here – “In A Crowded Train to You”
I grew up only tangentially knowing my maternal grandfather. He was an alcoholic and not in close ties with my my mom or the rest of our family. To know why I even have any memories of him is to know my mother and heart of her — the heart of welcome and forgiveness.
As a child, the only memories and images I have of him were visiting him several times during the year at my great-grandmother’s house — a small wood boarded home with the fire always going in the chimney. It feels as if it was going even in the summers — not sure if this was true but, it felt that way. My grandfather even on his worst days would always be happy to see me and would stumbled about the cramped first room looking for rolled penny wrappers to give his oldest grandchild. To give me something, anything, made him happy.
Years later, he fell deathly ill and my mother took on the role as his primary caregiver until his death last year. She took on this daunting task for about the last 8-10 years of his life. I never understood why and sometimes would get angry for the time she gave up for a man that was not there for her but, through her love I came around but, not as quickly as I should have and I regret this. In the same voice, I’m happy of the many times she kept reminding me to visit him at the nursing facility until she no longer had to remind me anymore. I just did.
One of the times that “I just did” was the last time I saw him right before he died. I could not have even imagined how I would have grieved for him and think of him long afterwards. I sometimes have moments of uncontrollably core-wrenching grieving and one of these moments happened earlier this year on a train ride home full of strangers around me. I closed my eyes for most of way of the 5 hour train ride to avoid anyone seeing me as the tears kept falling.
In this poem, I write about this moment and many other moments that I’m thinking of him.