IMPORTANT THINKINGS

by sofiya alexandra

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I wanted to post this photo Saturday, when it happened. My grandfather’s been recovering for over a month after his latest fall, and walking the length of that hallway is the longest he’s walked since. He was released Monday, and we were all ecstatic. But he fell again yesterday in his house, re-injuring his fracture and we don’t know how long it will be until he walks again. This is a painful reminder to celebrate every good moment, every good little thing. Nothing is forever. #tbt

I wanted to post this photo Saturday, when it happened. My grandfather’s been recovering for over a month after his latest fall, and walking the length of that hallway is the longest he’s walked since. He was released Monday, and we were all ecstatic. But he fell again yesterday in his house, re-injuring his fracture and we don’t know how long it will be until he walks again. This is a painful reminder to celebrate every good moment, every good little thing. Nothing is forever. #tbt

Filed under tbt

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Love and Losing 3

Hello, I’m back with another excerpt from my work in progress about my grandfather and aging. This one is short and about touch, which has been on my mind a lot when I visit my grandfather.

You can find the two earlier excerpts here and here.

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I imagine old people crave touch. When we’re young, we touch each other every day, we rub our skin against each other with the savage glee of youth, we bite, we scratch, we suck, we rub, we slap, we fuck, we hold. Touch can be anything but it is love. With age the amount of love around us decreases in so many ways. Friends die, or partners, the body becomes too frail for sex. My grandfather’s skin looks painful to the touch, dry and papery and see-through in places, with deep purple bruises. I imagine other people looking at his skin and feeling disgusted, and I get angry at these imaginary people. When I come over, I touch him at any opportunity and without any. His skin is warm and faintly fragrant with soap. It feels thirsty and lonely. I rub his head, smooth out his forehead wrinkles, fold and unfold his ears. I pull on his droopy hamster cheeks and I tug his earlobes. I part his hair on the side and smooth it out. I spike it all up and slick it back. I rub his flannel-wrapped forearms and put my head on his shoulder. I will touch him until he feels alive and wanted and my youth will seep through his see-through skin and make it supple and fleshy, his muscles filling up like beach balls, his chest becoming convex again. I will make him live.

Filed under grandfather love aging loss touch old age love and losing family grandparents old people

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Love and Losing 2

Here’s another excerpt from my ongoing work in progress about my aging grandfather. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to share their experiences and well wishes. You helped me feel less lonely, and that’s a great gift. For the first excerpt, click here

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I take him to doctors appointments and throw away medicine he shouldn’t be taking. I hold his hand during echocardiograms and translate his pulmonologist’s directions to breathe, stop breathing, hold, inhale sharply. He tries hard, and his Santa Claus belly expands and contracts. When he’s done, he shakes a little, but still rejects my hand when he gets off the exam table with difficulty. He always rejects my hand, getting out of the car, stepping off the curb, getting up from a deep couch. He’s a man, and he’s got it.

I take him to get his pacemaker checked and lose him in Beverly Hills. After parking in an underground lot and leaving him by the entrance, I emerge to find him gone. I run around, ducking into buildings, talking to receptionists, doormen, salespeople. I peer into the faces of Asian tourists, Mexican valets, white businessmen waiting for their cars by the round tables covered by blinding white tablecloths. Everything about the street I’m on screams wealth, opulence, health, youth, optimism, and nothing about it screams ‘lost old Russian man’ so I start feeling like what’s happening to me is a not real, but a movie with predetermined plot points.

As if on cue, it begins to rain. My running around block after block seems absurd and futile; I know he can’t walk too far with a cane, at his pace, but reason stops being reassuring when I don’t see him anywhere. I imagine him dodging the rain in a random jewelry store, or inside a fancy car dealership, drawn in by the cars. The options multiply in my head like mosquitos in twilight hour. Inside the medical building we’re supposed to end up in I describe the captain’s hat he’s wearing to two adorable and sympathetic receptionists, and they promise to keep an eye out. I run back into the street, burst into a bistro, almost knocking over the crisp waiter in a black vest, and stop dead in front of a yellow Lamborghini, so impossibly yellow in the colorless wet LA afternoon it shocks me out of my panicked trotting. I remember that my grandfather sometimes has his cell phone on him. I call his cell phone over and over with no result as the wet wind whips my hair in my face and I start to freak out. I run back into the medical building and the sympathetic receptionists frantically wave their hands at me.

“We think he just went up!”

I yelp with excitement as they keep talking.

“Very tall, with a camel coat?”

My heart falls.

“No, he’s short, shorter than me, in a blue jacket. Thank you so much though!”

I run back outside and start talking to myself as I peer into restaurants and fancy jewelry stores. Where could he possibly be and how could I possibly lose an adult person? I call my aunt and tell her the situation in a panicked voice. “Calm down,” she says. “Try walking in the opposite direction from where you would think he would go. I’m gonna call him right now.” This is the dumbest advice I’ve ever heard, I think as I take it, running. I finally see him, on a corner, opposite direction from where I thought he would be, slowly opening his ringing cell phone. I scream “Dedushka!” and sprint to him, grabbing him hard. I’m so relieved and so angry. He looks up, his big ears sticking out of his child’s face, under a captain’s hat, his eyes large and questioning.

“Where did you go, I told you to wait right there!” I can’t help exploding. “Let’s go, we’re already late.”

I offer my arm, expecting him to reject it like he always does, but he grabs it tight, and leans on me the entire way as we slowly walk to the doctor’s office. I don’t know if it’s because he’s scared or tired but my eyes well up.

When we walk into the doctor’s building, the receptionists scream and clap their hands as I dramatically gesture to him, like Vanna White, and we all laugh. He looks at me with a raised eyebrow, confused. “They’re just happy I found you,” I say.

“Oh, I’m used to women clapping when I enter a room,” he deadpans. He’s hilarious and infuriating and I love him so much I could choke him to death with my bare hands.  

Filed under grandfather love Aging loss old age sadness love and losing family grandparents cemetery short story losing my grandfather in Beverly Hills beverly hills

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I’m Sorry About Your Daughter

Max and I were at a fancy restaurant this Saturday in San Diego. There was an older couple sitting to our left. Midway through dinner, the woman started crying, hard. She cried several more times, her sobs shaking her shoulders and making her husband bury his head in his plate. I couldn’t help overhearing her talking about her dying daughter. I started thinking about my grandfather and teared up. I leaned over the table to Max and whispered, “I’m going to buy that woman a drink, I feel so bad about her dying daughter.” Max stared at me for a second, and whispered back, “She’s talking about her horse. She just said she doesn’t trot how she used to and did this with her hands” - here Max does a slow trot with his hands. We laughed for the next twenty minutes with short breaks for air intake. Best. Dinner. Ever.

16 notes

Love and Losing

I have an 88-year old grandfather and we’re best friends. He’s a Russian sailor and an inspiration and a pain in the ass. He’s also very funny, which makes the sadness worse sometimes, and better other times. He is aging and has not been doing well lately. I don’t know how to deal with it other than write. Since I have no idea what/how long this will be when it’s done, and it’s so very lonely to just think about this by myself all the time, I’ve decided to post little tiny excerpts from this work in progress. I’m not sure how many or how often, but I’m posting in hopes that if you are also dealing with something like this, it may make you feel less lonely. And in the process, you’ll be helping me. Thank you in advance. Oh, and the excerpts won’t be in any sort of order. 

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Some days everything feels hazy and the words inside me are hollow and dry, like old bones. The problem of making my grandfather well seems unsolvable, laden with parenthesis, matrices, fractions, negative numbers, exponentials, unknowns. He’s still not walking and the pressure to make decisions about his health mounts. I spend hours on the phone and in person talking, talking, talking with my mom, then my aunt, turning over solutions in our mouths like cows, making all the words into cud. His bed seems too soft, should we replace his mattress with a firmer one, to help him get out of bed? Should we get one of those hospital beds that you can control with a remote? Will Medicare cover it? Will his big-bellied body feel comfortable in the very narrow hospital bed? Are the chairs too big for his apartment, and does that make it easier for him to trip on them? Why doesn’t he use his chair-toilet? What do you mean his penis doesn’t fit in the hole? Is that normal? Should we ask the pharmacist about it? Should we take him to the hospital for another X-ray, maybe the reason he still can’t walk is because they missed something, a fracture, a cartilage tear, a vertebrae shift? But he hates the hospital, how do we make him go? And how will he physically get there, since he can barely get out of bed? If we call an ambulance, they will take him to the hospital that has room for him rather than the closest one, so should we call or not?

The questions are fog, they are bees that swarm around my family and make it hard for us to see him and each other. We answer them days and nights, days and nights, days and nights. When we look at our handiwork it disintegrates in our hands like ash, like a sleepless night’s dreams, like snow. We have solved nothing and all the words have been wasted, and the days relieve each other like soldiers, all alike, all alike.  

Filed under grandfather love aging loss old age sadness love and losing family grandparents