Today at work, while crossing the lobby, I saw an old woman sitting in the waiting room. She had a blank, sad stare. When I looked deeper, behind her glassy eyes, I saw the struggle I saw in yours. The fight for consciousness raged in her brain, and I recognized it like only I could. I saw you inside of her.
I could never forget the way you were, before Alzheimer's changed you. The doctors said you likely had it even when I was an infant, but I never believed them. You were charismatic; full of integrity and life. Resourceful and hard headed, generous and loving. Watching that slip away was like watching the sun sink into the ocean, not knowing if it will rise again tomorrow. Bittersweet.
When I garden, I don't do it because I'm trying to save money. I do it because you did. I do it because you taught me how, because you were passionate about survival. When I see my plants thrive, I feel a deep connection to you. I feel that even if I failed at everything else in this world, you would be proud of what I can create by using a skill and my head.
Seeing that woman today was all I needed. I was reminded of what life is really about. I'm sorry I stopped visiting you toward the end. Truth is, I couldn't handle it. It wasn't you...it was a shell of you, and i will live with that guilt forever. I hope only that you will see me and be proud.
14 years later, I remember you like you were here just yesterday. Did you know you were in my wedding? I wore your rosary around my neck.
I like to think that you live on inside of me, and in my garden. I miss you, grandpa.