Friday, November 7, 2008

For my Physicist

It seems like just yesterday, last fall, our last year together.
I remember you clothed in good humor and the scent of Coors-light. It was late evening and the sun began to lower in the sky as if saying "Goodnight, I've had far to much for one day". You were smoking a cigar. You were always smoking cigars in the evening, Romeo Y Julieta and I preferred them to the smell of Autumn.
We sat in silence listening to the sound of the passing train and I knew then that you wouldn't be of this earth much longer. My mind accepted what my heart could not bear.
As we sat in silence I studied you like a pedant. I wanted to remember every detail of your worn face. I tried to memorize you, every hair, every wrinkle. Your eyebrows were taking over your eyes, a familiar characteristic of aging men. I smiled to myself thinking I had never seen you any other way, and I loved the wiry, sporadic gray hairs that seemed to be trying to escape the rest. Your eyebrows reflected the shape of mine, and I was amused by the thought of such caterpillars above my own eyes.
"It's such a beautiful night", you said and broke through our comfortable silence.
"Yes" I replied
And just then you drew your head back and closed your eyes, inhaling, as if taking the season in full for the last time. You exhaled with pleasurable force and smiled, looking as if you had just been granted entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
"I wish it could be Fall all year round", I began, "It is the perfect season. The color, the scent, the apple cider! Can you imagine if it were like this all the time?" I asked
"Fall certainly does have a feeling of nostalgia, but I'm sure we would grow weary of it's decay." you replied
"I suppose" I said
I wondered quietly if your response to this season, and the thought of enduring it for more than a few short months, had anything to do with your knowledge of your illness and the desire to see the seasons change once more.

"It's getting chilly, here, take my sweater" you said
As I wrapped myself in your sweater I laughed as I studied the print and said "Grandpa, this sweater is hideous, it looks like it is from the 80's!"
You chuckled and replied "It may be well out of fashion, but it has never failed to keep me warm."
I smiled, thinking that was just something you would say.

Autumn made way for Winter's frost. The air became cold and damp and your days became a battle against time.
I was with you the night before you died, do you remember?
I told you I loved you, and that you were a great man. You sat upright in your home hospital bed and told me that you wanted me to have your patent plaque from PPG. You were the smartest man I ever knew, and the kindest. I don't think you will ever know what that plaque means to me. I know nothing of physics, or optics, but I know of your love and what love means.

Autumn is still my favorite season, and I still sit outside and read, just like we used to do. One thing has changed though, now I willfully wrap myself up in that old, ugly sweater.

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