It was just now that i remembered the sensation. Boxed up in the light blue front seat of the nineteen eighty-something Ford Taurus as it pulled up along side the battered parking meter closest to the corner. I hadn’t put my shoes on, and so i was out of the car on the balls of my feet and the tips of my toes nimbly sidestepping broken pavement and glass as my grandfather glowered at me from behind the windshield. I would just be a minute, though. I just needed to run inside to grab my G.I. Joes so that when we went back to his house i would have something to do other than talk to him, or my grandmother, or anyone. And, i would be fast, cringing at the coating of city grime that was slowly adhering to my heels as i neared my front steps.
My grandfather was never much of a driver that i remember – between his failing vision and his advancing bipolar disorder he wasn’t quite cut out for traffic. But, that day i somehow convinced him to start up the car and drive to my house. Children have short sight like that: one day my grandfather was lucid, happy, and amenable enough to drive me somewhere and i just wanted some toys to play with. Every time my mother mentions that he was overseas in the war or reminds me of how he lost half of his finger while doing janitorial work so that she could go to Catholic school my memory of him flickers off of the cartoonish and frightening man he was half the time, and off of the feeble thing he was in the nursing home. The image i see, ever so shortly, is the one that is framed on top of my grandmother’s television in Florida. Their wedding picture. Sometimes looking at it makes me very afraid, because they could look so absolutely happy together over fifty years ago without suspecting that any of this would happen … a war, a daughter, a sickness, and a grandson who just wanted his action figures so that he wouldn’t have to hear about any of it.
It took me a minute of thinking, but the last time i saw my father was while i was in the hospital last year. I’m not even sure he knows that i had surgery last month. The last time i saw my mother was a few weeks ago, i suppose. And i haven’t seen this little white box for eight days now.
Is time harder to measure than your heart?