It is a very odd thing to be here in this house and not have him here too. The television is silent, his chair empty. But his captain’s wafer crackers are still on the counter. His notepads, filled with wobbly numbers and reminders, on the table. It’s as though he has simply stepped out for a minute and will return any second.
I woke up early and came down the stairs to find Grandma in the living room. I hugged her and asked her how she was doing. Fine, she said. The girl who has come to live with her is taking good care of her, although, Grandma says, she’s not as good of a cook as you. This makes me sad.
For nearly two years I didn’t have a job and could have easily come here to take care of her. To make her eggs and toast and tea in the morning. To make sure she’s taking the right medicines. To just … be here. But now I do have a job. So that means I can’t. I can’t be here. I can’t cook for her.
The tears come at the most random of moments. Like the other day when I was opening my mail. I slid my finger under the flap on an envelope and got a paper cut. And I thought how I should get a letter opener. And then I caught a memory of Granddad opening his mail with his knife. Insignificant, really. I know. But that was just how he always did it.
After talking to Grandma for a minute, and making her toast, I went outside to take a turn in the golf cart. It was less than a year ago that I rode around with Granddad, listening to his stories as the morning air grew thick with Southern humidity. And today, it was a lonely ride without him.
I followed his daily route, stopping to pick up the debris and air plants that had fallen from the trees during the night, just like he taught me. I rode down the street to “check in” on the neighbors and their horses and on the way back, I picked up the newspaper. Just like he always did.
And now I sit in his chair, the leather worn soft and broken on the arm rests, his can of cashews to my right, really wishing he was here.
It is a very odd thing, indeed.