Monday, November 11, 2013


(( a re-post from a my private blog of my first visit to see my grandpa, who is currently staying in a VA hospital...originally posted nine months ago ))

every now and again, a day comes upon me that i want to stay with me forever.

a time capsule day.

this past weekend, i was blessed yet again, with such a day.
a moment in time that will forever be imprinted on my soul.

i was ushered into the foyer of a very special place with a large gush of wind. 
after settling my hair, and making sure grandma was situated, i quickly began to scan the room, taking it all in.
the quiet whispers of some other visitors.
the sweet smile of the receptionist.
the tall paneled walls, with war-time art scattered here and there.
i took a deep breath, wanting to soak it all in to the deepest parts of me.
i wanted to remember.

i remember thinking, if only these walls could talk.
what stories would they tell of all those who have entered this sacred place.
what moments they would describe as loved ones walk the journey of change and gratefulness and sickness and loss.
a deep part of me wanted to know.
i wanted to look into the eyes of everyone who has ever entered and say,
"thank you. you are valued. you are loved by the Creator.
your life has not gone unnoticed."

after parking the car, dad joined us and we began the long trek down a cold, quiet hallway.
grandma and i decided to wait in a little side room by the dining hall while dad went up to grandpa's room to bring him down.
the room was already inhabited by three veterans and a nurse aid.
one was sitting at a table reading the paper.
he was 93, and according to the nurse, he reads every single page of the paper, every day.
i was humbled by this. 
the other two men were playing a game of pool.
one was in a wheelchair with an amputated leg, so his friend would wheel him to the exact spot he needed for each shot.
i was thoroughly impressed with their game.
we all engaged in friendly banter, praising the veteran in the wheelchair for his  
deliberate and successful shots.

grandma looked at the men with such compassion in her eyes.
she said it was hard to come so often and get to know the men and their stories.
"some days i come, and i notice so and so is missing. i ask the nurses and they say, 'he has passed'. it is so so sad."
i could see the pain written in her eyes.
genuine, compassionate, merciful pain.

dad finally made it down with grandpa, so we met them in the dining hall.
a wave of joy welcomed me.
everything in the dining hall was very dated, 
from the art on the walls to the cold plastic chairs, to the large, worn bibs that each man wore. 

i found us a table and watched as dad wheeled grandpa through the food line.
it was as if their trek through the line happened in slow motion.
i caught a glimpse of grandpa, slumped in his wheel chair, eyes closed.
my eyes immediately began to fill with tears.
each one representing a memory. a feeling.
a glimpse of grandpa gently touching my madden, saying how much he loved babies.
memories of his chocolate eyes, that i also see in my dad and now my kale and my tobin.
such sentiment surged through me.

they finally made their way to our table.
it is here that i witnessed true beauty.
grandma immediately began trying to wake him, but was unsuccessful.
he kept his eyes closed for most of our time together.
grandma talk so tenderly to him, affectionately calling him pet names, caressing him, 
and so very carefully feeding him every single thing on his tray.
i was shocked. he literally ate it all.
down to the chocolate pudding that he actually perked up for.
i couldn't help but laugh as he turned his head and peeked his eyes open the minute the pudding touched his lips. 
our time was filled with laughter and joyful chatter.

i almost couldn't take my eyes off of him.
although aged dramatically since last seeing him, he looked so familiar.
his skin was smooth, his silver hair perfectly trimmed. 
his slim shoulders covered with a camo print long-sleeve shirt.
i wanted to hug him as tight as i possibly could and thank him for the legacy he was leaving behind.
i wanted to tell him how much i admire his tenacity, his determination.
anyone who leaves home as young as he did, and then somehow moves to another country, creates a family, provides for that family and works his way through three wars and up the ladder of ranks to the highest he could achieve, is one to be cherished. 
his work ethic had to have been unmatched.
i wanted to tell him how grateful i am for the son that he fathered.
i wanted to tell him how beautiful of a man that he is.
how loved he is by so many
how treasured.
how much our God values him, in spite of all sins and faults.
i wanted to tell him that i will never forget.
that i will keep his legacy of faithfulness forever tucked in my heart.

instead, i simply embraced him,
and whispered, "i love you" in his ear.

to which he replied, "good bye, good looking."
i melted.

his is a life well lived.

i love you, grandpa domenech.
now and forever.

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