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September 2004

I started life out as an abused child. My father had his problems and took them out on both my mother and me when I was very young. When I was about 2, my mother and I went to live with my grandparents. They were southern and had the southern way of taking care of family. Living with them proved to teach me about how history doesn't need to repeat itself, but it can be what you'd want it to be, but that's not really the point in this story, though it serves for good background.

My mother had remarried and we moved out when I was about 4 years old and we would visit with the grandparents almost every chance we'd get. My grandmother and I had forged this tight bond between us and we were very close. I regarded her as kind of a second mother because she was always with me when my mother went to work to try and do what she could to support the two of us without trying to ask too much of the grandparents. My grandmother was a very religious woman and we enjoyed hours of discussing various spiritual things and I tried to gain a further understanding of a possible "higher power" being out there.

Anyway, my grandmother had fallen ill about the time I was 7 and had run into several health problems that, though they had lingered for a long time, she would never pull out of. She lost a lot of weight and was confined to an at-home hospital bed because it took too much to actually walk. Watching this happen to her for so long took its toll on me. Here was this woman who was so great in my life, but she couldn't get herself around and it started to drive me away from her. Before she went in to the hospital for a gall bladder removal, my mother decided to stop by and sit with her for a while. We pulled into the driveway, she shut the car off and started to go inside. I didn't leave the car, even when my mother almost went to tears asking me to please come in and spend time with my grandmother. I just stayed in the car.

After a while, my mother came out, started the car and began to pull out of the driveway. As we pulled out, I looked at the window where my grandmother's bed was beside and watched as she waved goodbye out the window.

This would prove to be the last image I had of her. I would never get the chance to say goodbye or apologize so deeply as the regret I had felt for not going in to be with her.

A week later, we had her funeral. I had to be dragged out of the funeral parlor as they closed the casket because I just didn't want to leave her. Needless to say, this made an almost irreversibly deep and undying feeling of regret and guilt on a mind that was still forming (I was 9 at the time).

I had lived several years with this feeling of guilt in my heart and watched as my grandfather suffered, having lost the only thing he had ever loved in his life. This was a great man. Tall, strong and very much a southern gentleman. He'd break down in tears saying grace before meals and this almost unstoppable force I had an early childhood knowing was worn down to someone so lonely, he wouldn't even turn the lights on in the house when it got dark. He had spoken a number of times of dreams he would have about her. That she would come to him in dreams and he would literally beg her to take him with her and each time, she'd say that it wasn't time. It seemed that it was never time. Never, until one summer afternoon as my grandfather took his usual nap on the porch.

The mailman found him sitting back, seemingly having a good dream because of the smile on his lips, but he was clearly gone. It would seem that, in fact, she finally came for him, as he so desperately wanted, but this doesn't end here. See, I was still dealing with the excruciating pain of guilt over the fact that I broke what was left of my grandmother's heart; the one person I never wanted to, by not being able to say goodbye, nor tell her how much I loved her. Now, it was compounded in trying to say goodbye to my idol, my grandfather, whom I never thought I could hold a candle to.

A few years passed and life had settled into it's every day rhythm. We had, after each funeral, taken certain close items of my grandparents and locked them into a strong box because 1. They had a secure place and 2. Just looking at them started "Niagara Falls" for both myself and my mother.

One summer day my mother and I had gone out to one of our running about, paying bills and shopping stints. When we got home, we found that somehow, some way; my grandmother's watch had left the strongbox (which was ALWAYS locked) and managed to make it's way to the piano we had in the living room (she loved to play piano when she was well). After we discovered the watch just sitting there, we started to smell a strong scent of her perfume she used to where as if she were in the room with us. To me, she not only came back for my grandfather and relieve him of his heartache, but she also came to relieve me of mine, letting me know that though I couldn't see or touch her, she never left me as I had never stopped thinking of her. With this, I learned that maybe instead of begging her forgiveness, maybe I should try forgiving myself.

Since then, there have been no other happenings, but I suppose, for the most part, that was all I needed to know. Love really never dies.

I still miss the both of them and think of them all the time, but I know, one day, they'll be visiting me to take me back home with them. Till then, Hopefully some day, I'll be to my grandson what my grandparents were to me.

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