Saturday, June 11, 2005

my Grandfather [the black one]

he died on wednesday. it was a heart attack. he was old. in his early 80s i think, but cant be sure. he had suffered many over the past few years. or so im told.

it had been fifteen years since the last time i saw him, and that was two years ago. he was a shadow of the man i remembered. he was lying in his bed, in his pajamas. his frame skeletal and his eyes clouded in hysteria. they danced in his head. they memorized the ceiling. they shot through to the sky behind it. they never once fell on me. i had to call his name to get his attention. i had no idea what name i had given him. i honestly couldnt remember the last time i had referred to him at all, yet the word slid naturally from my lips: daddy.

he turned to me, startled and only half way, as if he had heard a ghost but wasnt quite prepared to see it. he looked like soft brown skin hanging from bone. he spotted my face from the corner of his eye, his head had yet to meet me. she told him in a hushed voice that i was was his grandson. -jonathan. you remember jonathan. hes Gingers boy. he grabbed my arm, his grip was weak and gentle. of course he did. where is he from again? oh yeah. california. how you doin boy? where you been?

she stepped back from the bed and my aunt stepped back into the doorway and it was as if they expected us to have an exchange they knew wasnt for their ears. they wanted our secrets to be safe. they didnt want to know. it was a sham though, i knew the score. they were listening with every pore of their body. so i spoke loudly.

i was living with a nice lady in california. she adopted me. ive been ok. im taking care of myself. i live in new york now. no, you live in new jersey, not texas. new jersey, newark. i live in new york, in brooklyn. yes, i know. it's just over the pond. no, i dont know where my mothers at. no. i dont. i dont know. yes i live in new york now. ive been good. ive been taking care of myself. no. no drugs. no. i havent seen her. i havent heard from her. i know, its good to see you too daddy.

he used to wear a cowboy hat. i guess even the black people from texas wore cowboy hats. i never saw him without one on, except that last time in his bed. he was very quiet and rarely spoke but when he did, it was law. the bottom line. he wasnt the tyrant though. he set the rules and my grandmother enforced them. that was how it was ran.

he owned various businesses. a fish market, a towing service, a mechanics shop, a limo service, a corner store, many others. he sent his 7 daughters and 3 boys to good colleges. they are all very successful, except for one that succumbed to schizophrenia and one that committed suicide. he went to church every sunday. his hands were bruised and calloused. he always had a lit cigar in his mouth.

the funeral is next week sometime. someone is gonna call me and give me the details. they would have called me sooner, but they thought my number had been changed. oh yeah, and i dont have to be there if i dont want to. but it would be nice if i came. or so im told.

i gotta buy some black.

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.