It’s 5:30 am. The morning is in transition from the grey of first light into something more approximating daylight. I look out over the porch, through a gap in the pine trees, to the wheat field across the road. I remember them mostly growing bluegrass in that field, but maybe wheat prices are up this year. Or maybe they thought they would be before the COVID mess.
My baby girl is laying on the floor to the right of me, intermittently sucking on her bottle and pulling it away to smile. She’s so happy. I wish he could have met her.
This is the first morning I’ve slept in this house, my grandparent’s place, since my grandpa died last December. I came out in June when we did a belated memorial service, but the house was packed with family from all over the country, so I just crashed at my brother’s place in town.
We never called them our “grandparents”, always Grammie and Pak. When or how Pak became our equivalent for grandfather I’ll never know for sure, though I’m told it was my doing as a small child. He shaped me so profoundly. How I respond to people, how I tell a story (though my ability pales compared to his), even how I hold my fingers when I wave at someone--all bear the stamp of Pak’s influence. When my mom called me on December 17th of last year to tell me he was gone, I wasn’t surprised. But I still entered a state of numbness similar to shock. Then I got home and told my kids. My oldest, then 6, sat with me on the couch. And we cried.
This house feels so different without him. Not empty, there are more people moving to and fro than ever, a couple of my siblings have moved in during the past few months. But there is a vacancy. Something missing. A feeling that I could accomplish something while I’m here that would prove meaningful to the man I so much admired. Now he isn’t here. No more chances to share what’s happening in my life, hoping to hear his words of approval. No chance to fix something around the place for which he would have thanked me. Not because I wanted the thanks so much as they were a tangible evidence that I had in fact helped him, and I so desperately wanted to give back to this man who gave so much to me.
I set my coffee down to think. Man. I miss my Pak.