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A Memory's Echo

I hadn't planned on another short story this month, but I couldn't sleep and a short story leapt out of me. It's shorter than I wanted it to be, but that's what you get when I'm doing this suddenly at two in the morning with no warning or planning.

One of the fondest memories I had of my grandfather before he passed away were the times we’d spend out in the front yard. I was about six or seven and he would sit in a foldout chair under the shade of the old, wooden garage door and watch me ride my bike up and down the sidewalk. I’d blaze by as fast as I could and he’d slap his hand to his forehead and make some kind of exclamation, usually, “Wow!”

We lived with my grandparents then and this was the closest thing I felt I’d had to bonding time with him. Sure, we’d watch cartoons and he’d watch us play and things like that, but for some reason, our time in the front yard with him watching me bike back and forth seemed incredibly special.

Soon, he would watch me from his same spot, only from the comfort of his wheelchair. I can still remember every detail of that chair. It was green with a rusted chrome body and gray rubber handles and the left wheel was mysteriously missing a notch in it’s rubber. I remember being upset when my grandmother gave it away to an ailing neighbor years later, but I couldn’t say a word about it.

My little brother was sitting in my grandfather’s lap when he had the heart attack that eventually killed him. They were playing a game where my grandfather would pretend to pass out and the only thing that would revive him was a kiss. He passed out onto the floor, the paramedics were called and while they worked on reviving him, my little brother shoved his way into the commotion and tried kissing him.

It didn’t work and he died in the hospital not too many days after that incident.

It was devastating, to be sure. I always felt that it might have been even more devastating to my little brother, though on a subconscious level, since I wonder if he actually remembers that as vividly as I do. But I would always cherish the memories that I did have of my grandfather, and few would be more precious than him watching me ride my bike.

I lost my grandfather so young that it was hard, later in life, to hear the bad stories about him. For my part, he was wonderful and that’s all I needed to know.

But I was stung today. I was caught completely off-guard and it was sad and sweet all at the same time.

I walked out my front door today and saw his wife, my grandmother, sitting in the shade in a fold-out chair, watching my six-year-old daughter ride her bike up and down the sidewalk, blazing by as fast as she could while she made exclamations about her speed.

“Granny,” she called out, racing by, “Look at me!”

“Wow!” my grandmother called back.

I had intended to go, but I sat down on the porch behind my grandmother and took in the scene, trying my hardest to repress the tears I felt coming on. A thousand things raced across my mind, but I simply had to enjoy this one sweet moment, an echo of one sweet memory.

She’s in her eighties and may not be with us much longer, but I feel comforted knowing that my children will have the same fond memories of her that I did of her husband.

Only I hope they have a lot more time with her than I did with him.
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