driving through golden gate park near sunset. blind willie johnson on the radio. the sun shone almost magically through the trees. and for one fleeting moment, all was okay in the world.
Today I came across a photo I hadn’t seen in years. In it, my Opa (‘grandfather’ to all you non-Germans out there) is opening up a present – Christmas, birthday, father’s day… I can’t recall, nor does it really matter.
What matters is that look on his face. I don’t think I’ve seen a more genuine display of happiness and surprise. I’d like to believe it really had nothing to do with the cheap Sears-brand chain saw, but rather for the fact that he was surrounded with the people he loved.
This is one of the very few pictures i have with my Opa and I together… I was young here, I’d guess about 5 or 6. The cancer might not have even reared its ugly head yet. Now, looking at the photo, I can’t help but notice that ash tray sitting next to him, an ominous foreshadowing device…
As the cancer progressed, my Opa became a shell of his former self. Even a 7 year old has no trouble figuring out such things. Our once beloved game of ‘Giving a George to the Rugrats’ transformed from a greatly anticipated event to a confusing, fear-inducing act. When his frail outstretched hand offered us our dollar bills (Georges), it wasn’t our Opa we were seeing any more. And I no longer wanted his money. The promise of a chance to run down the ice cream truck just wasn’t as enticing as it once was. I would have (still would, for that matter) trade all the Georges in the world for a chance to have my Opa healthy once again.
My grandfather is now buried at the Presidio in San Francisco. It’s a gorgeous plot of land, about as gorgeous as cemeteries can get, I suppose. I go and visit whenever I need to get away from things and remind myself from where it is I come. While there, I try to remember my grandfather as he was: strong, proud, honorable, hard-working. I try to remember my family as it was: adults in one room playing penny poker, while us kids tried to figure out what magic was happening one room over. I try to remember this photo of my grandfather with his wide eyes and genuine smile….
Smile on Opa.
welcome to iteration one of the new skewedreality.com – once i get the hang of this movabletype business, i’ll set about tearing it down and building it back up again, military basic training style.
while all that is coming together, i’ll try to make use of the site as a sketchbook of ideas (i might even stumble upon an original one some day), a tabula rosa of sorts.
much thanks to loren at underachievers and logjamming…