I know, I know, you’re expecting another missive where I berate old women and use caustic language about homosexuals, but today, something a little bit different.
I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality lately. My mom’s mom died about a month ago, leaving me with no living grandmothers, and a living grandfather whose relationship with me is largely based on gift cards to Barnes and Noble made out to “Aarronn” (when in doubt, double it). We’re a small family. Just me and my sister. My mom and my dad. I have an Uncle I don’t speak with, two cousins I added on MySpace and then went back to ignoring. But something about Grandma Mickey dying… it stuck with me. I can’t shake it.
I know she had a good life, I know she had fun. I know that all the way until the end, she was cognizant and sharp. We had constant arguments about politics, which usually ended in her telling me that she was going to staple my mouth shut. And I wonder what kind of old man I’ll be. I wonder if I’ll have her cloudy eyes and sit there with my menthol cigarette slowly burning it’s way to my hand. I wonder if I’ll be like my Grandfather, confused and alone. My life having left me with no answers, only questions and chaos. Or if I’ll be Grandma Walker. Terse and joyless. Living out my life like it’s a punishment for the crime of being born.
I know their stories. I know the tales we tell about them, anyways. I know the gist. I know that they were once young and they were in love and they fought in wars and made bombs and had children and lusted. But I wonder, if they had the chance to capture them, which moments they would take into the next life. I wonder if it’s a relief to be unburdened of memory. I wonder if Henry Walker ever looked at himself in a rear view mirror at 5am, sweaty and bleary eyed, surprised by where life has taken him. I wonder if Marguerite felt the shock of someone completely blowing away your preconceptions in one miraculous moment. I wonder if Mieko Kunitomo ever broke down into tears because it all became too much too soon.
I wonder, when I am old, what will I tell the young ones? Will I tell them the sanitized stories that I heard growing up? Or will my eyes twinkle, and my gut ripple, as I tell the one about the Hopi kachinas and the crystal meth, eyes unfocused, my unsteady words recreating that sunwashed stretch of Grand Avenue. The grandest days of my youth.