Last night we sat at the dining room table and we played dominoes and I watched your sturdy hands, hands which have fixed numerous engines, and coaxed numerous machines into humming order, and hooked worms on countless fishing lines. I watched those hands as they shakily pieced together tiles of nine dots with other tiles of matching number and I noticed that while they are camouflaged with age spots from your years out in the sun at the lake, that they are the same strong hands which scooped up baby painted turtles for me, and placed them gently in my own small hands.
We talked honestly last night about your aging, about what happens next for you in this life and in the next. We wondered and we pondered and as I told you stories of my Hospice patients you repeated softly, "Is that right...is that right" in your own reassuring, dulcet tones. I don't know who I was trying to comfort, you as you bravely face your mortality, or me, who marvels at the courage of you.
You have no idea how proud I am of you, of your ability to shift gracefully as your body changes and your vision dims, at your continuing sense of calm even in the face of gradual losses, at the smile that lights up your eyes when you talk about your home on the lake, and your life with my grandma.
I know you now better than I ever have, and I still feel sometimes as if I have barely scratched the surface of learning who you are, and what made you the man you are.
We sat around the table last night at the closing of a year, and when I left you said, "Goodnight, Granddaughter" and it felt like benediction.