There are so many things I never appreciated about my grandparents:
The way my grandma and grandpa managed to stay madly in love after 52 years of marriage, their insistence on never paying for a haircut when they have their own scissors at home, my grandfather’s awful jokes (“What do you call a fish with no eye? Fshhh”), and my grandmother’s bright white hair that a hummingbird once mistook for nesting material and plucked from her head.
My grandparents have always loved me unconditionally, even when I was too young to do the same. I still feel ashamed of the time they visited in sixth grade and my grandma walked me home, but I was embarrassed by her colorful muumuu and crossed to the opposite side of the street.
But the thing I appreciated least of all about my grandparents is the fact that they won’t always be here.
My grandma had surgery on a brain aneurysm a week ago, and while it seemed to be completed successfully at the time, two days later she had a stroke. My mom’s been in Florida since, reporting updates via Skype. Even through the pixilated video I can see the tears she tries to hold back as she swears she felt Grandma’s eyes listening when she told her about the scholarship I just received.
It seems that the most amazing thing about grandparents is also the most fragile, and the most obvious: they’re old. They’ve lived a long time and they have a lot of stories. I wish now that I took the time to listen to more of them.
“When I first met your grandfather in college, he was so handsome and charming,” my grandma once told me. “Little did I know that 50 years later, I’d still be stuck with him!”
I know disturbingly little about those 50 years, or the ones before my grandparents met. I know my grandpa was in an internment camp in the Philippines during World War II, but I never asked him to tell me about it. I know even less about my grandma’s childhood. And while all grandparents eventually reach the age when it is time for their souls to move on, it seems a pity if their lifetime of stories cannot stay behind.
As of now, the doctors say there is nothing we can do but wait, and there is nothing I can do but hope I haven’t waited too long.