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December 14, 2018

The Last Days Of Grandfather

He was a tough old bird as they say; an immigrant in the late 1910’s or so...he came over here with his wife to avoid whatever unpleasantness was coming in Russia after the revolution...he worked as a security guard in a steel mill and didn’t take any guff from anyone...he boxed a little bit...he learned English and did all right for himself...after he learned enough, he drove a taxi...he saved up his money and bought a nice house...nothing fancy mind you, but nice with a big lot where he and his second wife put in a big garden...he had a ‘55 or ‘56 blue Ford parked in the garage (I wish I had that car now)...once in awhile, he’d take us to the grocery store and on the way home, we’d get some ice cream...however, even tough old birds get their wings clipped eventually and they have to stop flying...and now he was spending his last days at home in a bed...he didn’t want to die in no hospital...he didn’t want some doctor or nurse leaning over him, so he made us take him to his house...hell, even though I was young, that made sense to me...he lived across the street from a big cemetery which I imagine made it pretty convenient when the time came...I always got the creeps going over to his house when I was small, especially when the sun set and all you saw were the ghostly outlines of the monuments...when it got dark outside, I imagined that the cemetery was full of spooks just waiting for us to go outside when we were leaving so they could haunt us...I admired him more when I got older...his idea of medicine was; a cold?...take a shot of whiskey...a broken arm?...a shot of whiskey...a toothache?...a shot of whiskey, maybe two...there wasn’t nothing that couldn’t be cured by a shot of the good you can bet that on his dying day he requested a shot of whiskey as he lay on his deathbed...the doctor wouldn’t have approved but he wasn’t around and I think the adults were afraid if they said no, he was gonna get up and kick their asses even in his he lay there, his breaths getting more labored with each one he took, one of his kids, who actually was an adult now, put a small radio by him...on it, was playing his beloved classical music...he always had that music on at his house...I think I saw him make a half-smile as he laid there in his final moments...I overheard people saying that they kept hoping they’d play Rachmaninov, or Rimsky-Korsakov, or some other Russian composers’ songs...but when he died, he was listening to Chopin, although it might have been Beethoven or somebody else for all I know, and I thought that’s not a bad way to go out at all...our own ship, the Titanic is sinking now and we all know how that’s going to end...the Carpathia isn’t coming to save time anyway...we don’t have any lifeboats to climb into, no brave officers to rescue us at the last moment...we’re going to dip under the cold water-our bow will sink and our stern will rise-we’ll keep climbing up the stern but there’s nowhere we can go but or more of our funnels will snap off and quickly we’ll be under the mass of dark icy waters resting on the bottom of our pine box...and it is dark down there, I mean pitch black and permanent and unlike the Titanic, we’ll be forgotten about soon—or we’ll just become a distant memory or a faceless name from some dusty book of recollections stored in some dark attic with cobwebs...passed down to the generations that follow us but don’t follow us in the sense that they forge their own paths...that kind of sucks when you realize the ramifications of it, or the non-ramifications of it as the case may be, but it’s the ugly to look at truth that gets in your face and grabs you and as the man on TV used to say “That’s the way it is”...