Granddaddy45This is my grandfather, circa 1945, in what we think was his High School Senior photo. I love the paisley tie, tucked into his button-down? I also love that, even though he’s just a senior in high school, he looks just like I remember him looking in the early 90’s, but maybe just a little thinner.

My grandfather died of cancer a decade ago, and started chemo in the early 90’s, when I was in the third grade. I remember visiting him when the chemo made him loose all his hair, well, all but one, and being afraid of him. And being simultaneously ashamed I was afraid. In my senior year creative writing class, we were to write a poem describing a feeling or emotion, without naming it, and I knew I wanted to write about that feeling.

Christmas 1992

They told me you were sick
before our visit that Christmas.
You answered the door, your head
shimmering like the gold ornaments
hidden in your tree’s inner branches. The forest
of your hair had been suddenly bulldozed,
and one lone, proud hair stood erect
                     clinging to life.
When you stooped down to hug me, my heart
dropped out of my eyes, sharp pin pricks beating.