Author's Note: In loving Memory of Joseph Portella: loving husband, father, and most of all my Pawpaw. Died March 28, 2007. The ending wasn't exactly what I pictured but it was close enough. Sadie Jane Cooper is one of my original characters that I made up for a story I'm writing about Wide Scope. I'm hoping to get that finished soon. I also hope this conveys the right emotions.
I watch the gray box placed above the hole in the ground that will be the final resting place…a deep cold lifeless hole. It's so unfeeling and I want to scream my protest of the treatment but all I do is bow my head, not speaking.
Loosing someone you love is like watching one of those silent films. You can see the memories run through your head but only hear a certain part, or remember a certain smell. Then later after they're gone you'll hear that one sound, only it won't sound the same. Or you'll smell that same smell only this time it won't be in the same place and your mind goes back to the person you loved and lost…only to remember they aren't there.
Your throat will close, your face will tighten and tears will come uncontrollably, then you'll feel the unexplained pain in you heart. It's tight in your chest but you know it's not your real heart that's hurting. All your memories of this loved one will run through your head and slowly that person will fade from the pictures…reminding you that they are gone…always reminding you.
As I see the image of my grandfather in my mind I see him as I remember him. In his old light red and blue plaid button down shirt, black dress pants. The same brand of shoes he'd worn for years, his hair sparse and white, and those big glasses covering his face making his eyes look bigger then they were. A smile plays on his face as he sat at the picnic table enjoying the day as he watched us play. As soon as the image plays another one appears on top of it: a drab gray casket…the same one at his funeral. The funny thing about remember is I always see him as he was when I was a small child, not as he was when I got older. I never pictured the motorized chair for when he couldn't walk anymore of the breathing machine when his lungs wouldn't work or at the end when he was bed ridded. It's always the same pawpaw, in that shirt, the smile, and the picnic table on the left side in the back yard facing the wooden swing.
The day before the funeral I walked through the old house I'd known since I was born, the same house all my aunts and uncles were brought home too and grew up in. The small two bedroom one bathroom house complete: with window air units to keep the house cool in the summer and a big heater in the kitchen for the winter. The most used spot in the kitchen was in front of the heater, where we used to sit and eat breakfast while waiting for the T.V. to warm up so we could watch cartoons and when we were just plain cold. The small kitchen with faded yellow wallpaper that used to be white where holidays were made and we eat supper and dinner everyday at the same time. In the living room where we watched Bugs Bunny while pawpaw sat in his favorite napping chair, he always did like Bugs and his famous catch phrase, 'Nah what's up Doc?'
Walking through the house brought so many memories, but it was empty. I could hear the sounds, but they weren't real. When I turned around he wasn't there like I expected. When I walked into his room it was empty….no pawpaw only a made bed and everything put away as if he'd never been there. I walked all through the house, known yet unknown to me. In the backyard, laughter could be heard-his laughter. Distant: but so close. Stepping through the back door my eyes went immediately to the wooden swing. The same swing he sat and pretended to eat our cakes made of wet sand and flower petals. The swing we used to sit with him on…it sat there unmoving yet another reminder. My cheeks were wet by the time I left, my eyes hurt and I could barely breathe through my nose.
Now sitting at the church with, one of the only three things I have left of my pawpaw, his old handkerchief. My hands keep wringing the small piece of white cloth out as I wait nervously for the funeral mass to begin. The family is supposed to walk in after the casket; we stop in the isle to drape the gray box with a whit sheet. I have the honor of doing so. My hand touches the box and it's so… so cold. I can feel the tears coming. My other cousins adorn the casket with a cross, bible, and two rosaries. They are already breaking into tears. The ceremony goes by all too quickly, sniffles break through the priest's sermon. He speaks of my pawpaw and the old times. My family huddles together trying to fight off the loneliness, I can feel it setting into my bones.
The drive to the cemetery is silent and withdrawn. We all reach the grave sight and listen to the last song the gray box will sit through…it's Amazing Grace. That song will forever turn me to tears now. Fresh tears flow down the faces of many. I silently watch as red dirt slips through my grandma's old hands onto the casket. The song slowly ends and one by one people walk away. I still stand there wishing so desperately it isn't true. Still trying to tell myself it's not real, even though the proof is right there and after we leave the gray box will descend into the ground never to see daylight again. Such a cruel fate, I can't help but think.
Loosing a loved one is never easy. Every once in a while you'll think of them…only to remember they are gone and not coming back–ever.
Sadie slipped her hand through mine, curling her fingers around me and giving a squeeze. Neither of us looked at each other but stared at the casket. What seemed like hours later, but really only minutes, we turned and numbly walked back to the car. She drove, knowing that my mind was only half way paying attention. My thoughts were soberly on my pawpaw. This was the worst reason to come home for.
Sadie didn't drive me to the reception back at the church, and later I would thank her for that, but to my mother's house. Still not speaking I greeted Lamont at the front door. I ran my fingers over his head and scratched his ear. Sadie put her purse and car keys down on the kitchen table and comes back to lead me to my old bed room.
The room wasn't like it used to be, the windows were now covered with white curtains and the wall were painted a nice crème color. A nice queen sized bed, with white sheets and a light blue quilt, stand in the middle of the small room with a side table holding one lamp.
She pulled me over to the bed and helped me out of my shoes, button up shirt and even took my belt off. I half heartedly watched as she stepped out of her dress and panty hose. I lay back on the bed and heard the clanking noise of Lamont's claws on the wooden floor. The bed dips and Sadie curls up next to me, still neither of us talking. She just slides a leg over my hips and leans forward for a kiss.
An hour later I lay with my arms behind my head and Sadie beside me with her head next to mine, both of us completely clothes free. Lamont lay at the foot of the bed staring at me, I couldn't see him without lifting my head but I could sense his eyes on me.
"Thanks, for coming home with me," I said lifting my right arm and wrapping it around her shoulders. I'd meant to say a lot more to her, she hadn't had to come with me nor did she have to do what she just did, I needed the comfort and she'd been there for me. I meant to convey all these words to her, all the memories about my pawpaw but I couldn't…not yet at least.
A small understanding smile spread across her lips and she said, "You're welcome and welcome home Larry."