The house was quiet. The peace felt as I pictured Grandma, smiling from a full day with James, tucking herself into bed enveloped my heart. But a door stood staring at me–shut. It should’ve been open–its knob covered with a black and red swishy jacket, possibly a ball cap on top of that. It wasn’t.
I trudged up the stairs to the bedroom I was staying in, tip toed around my sleeping son’s Pack ‘N Play, grabbed my face wash and a headband. Rinsing the day off of myself, splashing warm water over my eyes again and again. Maybe if I washed them just enough, the door would appear how it should when I saw it next. I stopped in the kitchen mid route, poured my rose out of the fancy glass and into Grandma’s favorite Halloween mug from the back of her cupboard. I slid on her old, pilling covered sweatshirt. And back to face the door I went.
I walked in and inhaled–searching for him. It was like he never left–so much so that how could he ever have been there–for in having been there it meant having losing him. It wasn’t possible.
I walked to his dresser, atop it sitting wooden urns of the ashes of his beloved Beagles, Boomer and Tootsie.
I walked to his bathroom–his creams and toothpastes and shaving tools now tucked into drawers—no longer in need of easy grab, yet not yet able to find their way out completely. As I walked out, a Minion as small as a quarter smiled up at me from the sill below the mirror. I know he placed it there.
I walked into his closet and sat down on the ground–looking up and all around at the Giant clothes for the Giant of a Man. Studying sweat stains on ball caps, dirt spots on shoes. I wondered where each marking came from–what story it held. Picturing him sweating over a full golf day with his favorite guys and yellowing the hat, scuffing his tennies as he walked my sister’s dog and darkening the shoes. I wish I knew where each marking came from.
After a long while, I stood, feet tingling from falling asleep. I went to grab the doorknob and stopped. His bed was pristinely made except for his side. The corner of his sheets had been tossed back, like he had just gotten up for the day and walked out. Venturing about–yellowing his ball caps with sweat from joyful rounds of golf, scuffing his tennies during sunrise walks with Charlie, leaving behind Minions the size of a quarter, and sometimes, visiting his granddaughter for a shared glass of wine in an old mug on the floor of his closet.
Grandma tossed a pillow onto the floor the next day. It had lighthouses and sailboats on it.
“These are Papas sheets, James. Papa used to live at the beach.
But I suppose, really, he still does.”
Takes my breath away. Thank you