You ask me if I’m OK, and I say yes. I’m OK in the knowledge that, the day after I found out Luz and I have a baby boy awaiting in her womb, my grandfather passed. It was a Tuesday when I saw my boy’s penis through black-and-white live-action screens, exclaiming “YES!” in relief that I finally found out a whole lot more about the fetus occupying her space for the better part of four months. It rained hard that day, and, as the taxi windows clapped with the drops of water from the outside, I told Luz about the joy I felt of this tremendous undertaking, but the eerie feeling I felt at the pit of my stomach. Shortly thereafter, we called her mom, my mom (who didn’t pick up at first), and then her father. She called my mother a second time, and my mom might as well have jumped out of Luz’s cell phone receiver with her elation.
But something was off. Mom said she was made aware that my grandfather was officially off the pipes and machines keeping him alive over the last week. After she had just visited him in Miami, my mom’s father reassured her that he would eat and he would be well, words used to allay my mom’s otherwise nervous demeanor. On Wednesday, that message sat with me for a few hours. After our usual morning dialogue and reflections, I told Luz I felt like I had to visit my mother, just to reassure her. I hopped on the 2 train, and transferred to a bus that made me wait far too long.
My mother’s eyes welled up on sight, understanding what was to come. Two hours after I arrived, she got the phone call. He passed away, quietly and neatly. His six-foot 300-pound frame and powerful bass gave im a presence I could only hope to emulate in my adult life. He saw himself as a true patriarch, proud, stout, and full of vigor. Even a decade ago, he still knew how to take his Metrocard, and traverse the MTA to Washington Heights, where he partied and BSed with alligator shoes and a Kangol. Even when he lost some of his teeth, he still knew how to crack jokes and tell stories really loudly. He didn’t always have the greatest relationship with his grandchildren, often losing his charms in favor of some old fashion “I’m an adult, so what I say goes.”
As we all got older, it became easier to appreciate him after he also reflected on the attitudes he would leave behind. He didn’t want to make apologies for his life, but didn’t want to find people angered by him in the afterlife. It’s his biggest negotiation. Now on the way to Miami, we may be officially mourning his passing, but he lived a long 77 years, ones that weren’t rich monetarily, but rich in living within the means given to him. It’s hard to mourn someone who had so many moments in life to value, especially when you relate that to the life of a newborn.
He won’t be expected to fill in the shoes of the 77-year-old, but he’ll at least know that he comes from a lineage of people who lived life to the fullest. And a couple of Kangol wearing Dominicans.
Jose, who’ll be back on Thursday …