“Do you know what I hate about getting old? You forget things you should remember,” said Grampa Clive as we were watching a baseball game on TV.
The funny thing was, that at the age of 75, I thought grampa was already old.
“Not details, like your PIN number or your address,” said Clive, “but important things, like the way Gramma Agnes smelled when we first met. That was such an important day. Some things I remember, but what I really want to remember is gone.”
“That’s funny. I’d like to forget things,” I said, trying to sound wiser than I was. The moment I was thinking about was the time I dropped my change of underwear in front of the class before heading off to a swimming lesson in sixth grade. I could still hear the chant of ‘Al dropped his gitch’ ring in my ears.
Grampa just smiled. “The things you’d like to forget are often the moments you’ll cherish.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” I said.
“Let me ask you something. Whatever it is you’re thinking of, did you survive?”
“Obviously, Grampa,” I said.
“Did it scar you for life?” he asked.
“Then hold onto it. One day it’ll be more important than you than you realize.”
I didn’t understand what he meant until the morning I sat in the funeral chapel, looking at the human shell that once held my grampa. Of all the conversations I had with him, this was the one I remembered. And at this moment, it was the most important memory in the whole wide world.
I felt stupid because I didn’t appreciate what he said that day. That in my own myopia I couldn’t see the truth Grampa was trying to show me.
But I also felt grateful. Grampa revealed something so profound it may take a lifetime for me to discover.
Then again, it just may be his clever way of preserving himself in my memory. Grampa was always so clever. I’ll miss him, but I’ll never forget him. In his special way, he made sure I wouldn’t.