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{ This is actually a true story, (the names were changed to protect the innocent) about the last time I saw my grandfather and one of my fondest memories of growing up with the man! While it is a departure from the sort of thing I am generally prone to write (mostly action & psychological horror) it is something I enjoyed getting off my chest! So if you'd prefer more butt kicking for your web browsing buck, hit another link, but this still might appeal to those who have been forced to watch a dear loved one deteriorate just prior to their death. }

Going to Houston

Joey stood in the ash-gray hospital room and tried to pretend that all was well in Houston, Texas.

"Isaac Valentine!", his mother said to the frail man in the bed, holding the man’s dazed face in both her hands. "Can you feel this?", she asked in a loud voice, and moved one of her hands down to squeeze his left one.

Joey watched in horror as his grand-father’s head lolled to the released side, gravity taking advantage of the hand’s absence. "Grandpa, can you feel it?"

Joey’s grandpa looked up at Joey, and then dully over at his daughter, Joey’s mom. He didn’t speak, nor did he give any sign of comprehension.

"Isaac Valentine!", she tried again. "Ice Cream? Vanilla?"

"Call him ‘Daddy’!", Joey said. "If he doesn’t recognize you, he won’t respond."

"I’m a nurse, Joey! You’re a college student.", his mother reminded. She looked back at her father whose stroke had pulled him into his broken body, and addressed him by the name that had always been his. "Isaac Valentine! I’ll feed you this if you want it."

"wubbulous world candle seems lightning June mama…", the old man said in murmur.

Joey’s mom pushed the spoon into the paralyzed side of Isaac’s mouth. His mouth moved in a sucking manner.

"Is it good grandpa? You like the ice cream?", Joey asked.

"Yeah, s’good.", Isaac said, as if in a moment of clarity.

"Good, Daddy, good!", Joey’s mom said looking pleased.

"He heard me!", Joey said as his mother pried Isaac’s lips open for another spoonful. There were horrible sores in Joey’s grandpa’s mouth, and the IV didn’t keep them moist so that they could heal. Ice cream and water did.

Isaac looked up at where Joey was, which was right before the sink and mirror across the room. Joey felt framed by the rectangular indention in the wall where the sink was installed.

"Why’re we showing it over there?", Isaac asked.

"What?", Joey’s mother asked her father.

"Because it’s clearer over here, Paw-Paw.", Joey said quickly, so as to catch his grand-father’s train of thought before he lost it completely again.

But the moment was over, and Isaac had that glazed look on his face again. He looked unhappily around the drab room at nothing.

Joey rubbed his stubbled chin and thought hard.

Grandpa believed that Joey was a projection, and that the framing around Joey was the screen that Paw-Paw used to show his home movies on. This Joey was sure of.


They watched the film of the second trip to Disneyland, from back when Uncle Tom was just a baby, all the aunts and uncles were kids, and Joey’s mom was only about eight or nine. Joey’s sister Theresa looked on in awe at the captured fun.

Joey, himself, was fascinated that he could see Mommy at his own age, and Grandpa at Mommy’s age.

Grandpa, or Paw-Paw as he was known to Joey and Theresa, must’ve been the strongest man on the planet! On the screen he was holding both his daughters up to be filmed in front of the big, faky castle. It was neat! Even now with Paw-Paw as old as he was he was able to hold Joey and Theresa on his lap.

Grandpa leaned his head in between his grandkids’ heads and whispered "Who wants ice cream? Vanilla?"

"Me, me, me, me, me, me!", Joey and his sister screamed in unison. Paw-Paw pushed himself up as they slid to the floor. He walked into the kitchen singing "I scream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!" Grandpa loved showing movies and eating ice cream. That was what Joey could always count on: home movies and vanilla. Oh, and Grandpa always being real strong.

Going to Houston was always like this.


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