On Thursday nights we stay with my Grandpa. We drive over in our pajamas and pillows and sweatpants, and there he is on the couch with the TV blaring, wearing no pants (He hates wearing pants, and when you’re 93 you can do whatever you want about pants. Finally.)
We say hello and he always calls me Brooke Darling. We help him to his walker. Then we fill up two liter pop bottles with hot water to go in Grandpa’s bed. He’s had hot bottles in his bed for as long as I can remember—even on the one night in the summer when I was nine and my family spent the night and the house was so boiling hot we all woke up and put cold, wet rags on our foreheads. Grandpa and Grandma snoozed away with the covers pulled up to their chins and the hot bottles cozying up their legs.
After the hot bottles are done we sleep while Grandpa sleeps, with a little camera by our bed so we can see if he needs anything. He doesn’t, usually. I think he just likes knowing we’re there. We listen to him talk in his sleep, occasionally snore. Then, we wake up and go to our regular lives.
Ever since my grandma died he’s been gathering the house into boxes. The old books, blueprints, model airplanes, and a bunch of one-of-a-kind things, like the chair massage pad, his American flag robe, and his collection of baseball hats. Probably he would call them caps?
My Grandpa loves the city of Kanab. He aches to live there. So he’s going to. For two months at least, and then, who knows.
It feels very sad to see all the boxes. It feels so arbitrary and cold—my grandparents and all their stuff breathed life into that house. Grandma’s chair by the bay window is gone. Grandpa’s plans to save the political universe are stashed away.
Unknowingly, we compass ourselves around things that seem very permanent, like our families and how they act. Like where our grandparents live and the things we will see when we visit. Like the family reunions that happen once every three years. Like the way the sun is supposed to rise in the morning.
The boxes just make me feel like the proverbial rug of stability is yanking itself out from under me.