Tuesday, July 06, 2004

My dear Abuelito...

It wasn't too long after I had arrived in Houston that I got to see my grandfather for the first time since Thanksgiving of this past year. After seeing him looking over his beloved stamp collection during the Turkey break, and him stealing the pound of coffee I brought from Starbucks for my Uncle Angel, it was weird seeing him lying in a hospital bed, lacking the ability to talk properly, or to move the left side of his body. He went from looking through all the pictures I had on my computer of my friends and experiences in college, to lying in bed without the capacity to eat without the aid of a tube that fed directly into his stomach. It wasn't long that my mother and I had first arrived, along wih my uncle Willie, that my grandfather sounded out the phrase,

"Es malo a ponerte viejo." (It's bad to get old)

Abuelo. 83 years young, on July 9th. The same birthday as my momma. We got him a cake to celebrate it just before we left. He couldn't have any of it. Given the chance, we all knew if he had that cake within arm's reach, he would've gotten to it. We made sure that cake stayed at a safe distance, where the only thing he could do involving the cake was imagine the flavor the combination of pound cake, white frosting and a blue trim, can make. My little cousin, Marco, (I can't believe the sucker is already 10 years old, the rugrat) offered the suggestion of us breaking down the cake and placing it in his feeding tube. Nice gesture, but we all knew it wouldn't change anything. Not to mention, it was bad for him. All of us, deep down inside, wished that he could just sit up and tear a piece of that cake, and chow down with us. All he could do, instead, was to just watch it from the side. We dared not eat it in front of him, though he did tell us to enjoy it on his behalf.

Abuelo, despite his condition, was still all there. He asked me (though with plenty of difficulty) about my trip in Europe, including asking me about the "girls." (Yup, I get it from him) Half the time, though, he tried talking to me, and I simply couldn't understand him; it just wasn't coming out right. I wished he could at the very least have full control of his speech, but it was shot. He knew what he wanted to say, but it just wasn't coming out clearly.

I hold out a lot of hope that he can recover his speech and the ability to eat food again. I made sure, though, that I got as much time as I could with him to keep a lasting memory, in case he left us all before we could see him again. I hope he didn't wind up crying after I left him in tears.

Buena suerte, mi abuelito.


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