My Grandpa wasn't doing very well. He had dementia and he was in an assisted living facility. He couldn't speak and there was no proof that he was still "in" the frail body turned shell that sat, eyes closed in the chair. I hadn't seen him in years. Unfortunately he lived across the country and I hadn't been able to sack away money to get there. That sounds like such a piss poor reason now, but I also was scared to see him deteriorated from the man I remembered.
I thought about him often from my middle of the country dwelling. I thought especially long about him because this was the year that I decided to start writing. My Grandpa was an avid reader and I knew he would love to see a book that his granddaughter had contributed to. There was in fact a book that I submitted a story to for the very fact that the cover reminded me of my Grandpa. The picture on the cover was to be a Norman Rockwell-like drawing of a mischievous boy running.
I sent a copy of that book to my Grandpa, care of his wife. I admittedly was slow in the turnaround time. There was probably 5 weeks between receiving it from the publisher and sending it off to my Grandpa. I'm not proud of the delay. Seems like life is always like that though, or maybe I'm a huge procrastinator and it's just my life.
About a week after I sent the book off, I remember trying to look something up. I can't remember what it was at this moment. It was something really innocuous about parenting, but in the margin there was the name of an author that my Grandpa had loved. Louis L'Amour was the name. He was a Western Novelist and I had been struggling to remember his name for a few years now. My Grandpa gave me a book by the author when I was probably a freshman in high school. I won't give away my age now (ladies never do), but it's been some years. Ya see, I loved reading at that time and that gave us a subject to bond over.
Later I would receive a card from his wife saying that she read the book to my Grandpa. I know that it was the same time that random search led me to the author. I know that you might be thinking about how the cookies and logarithms will affect searches and retain information. Maybe you think I searched it before and it remembered my interest, therefore going there. Well quit pissing on my parade...This isn't Terminator stuff with self aware robots and stuff!
No, just messin' with you. I don't think that is the case because I hadn't been able to pull the name of the author and I kept meaning to check my books at my parent's house to find it. Only after seeing the name and reading the list of books did I know it was the right dude.
That was not the last "sign" he had for me. The day that my grandpa died is the same day I received my first royalty check for the book I so proudly sent him. Now I don't pretend that he scheduled his departure around the royalty check to help make arrangements. I hope he didn't anyway, because I couldn't even get him two gallons of milk with that first check. I do think though that there are coincidences that do provide a sense of closure.
I would later learn that my Grandpa himself wanted to be a writer. He had won some contests and done some work that was recognized. What an amazing, beautiful way to be lead to peace with his passing.
Mandy Waysman is a blogger, author, wife, and mom to two daughters. You can find her work on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, In The Powder Room, BonBon Break, humorwriters.org, Sammiches & Psych Meds, and other parenting sites. She appears in the books Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids) and Memories from Maple Street USA.