People come and go throughout our lives. Some friends we hang onto and others become another face in the hallway. The sad truth is that eventually we lose our friends and loved ones whether you hang onto them or not. The good thing is that once they pass on there are things that occur that remind us of when they were alive. I had a conversation today that made me think of a few people. I felt compelled to write about them and some of the things that have kept them fresh in my memory.
In grade school I had a friend named David Walker. I don’t remember what grade I was in at the time but I remember we were good friends. We would joke around a lot and when I rode my cousins bus we would all sit in the same area and talk and joke around. I remember sitting in the cafeteria one time and we were rubbing our ears until they turned red. I remember us laughing our butts off over doing it. We were laughing enough that one of the aides in there told us to settle down and eat. A little while after that I stopped seeing him around school. Days turned into weeks. I thought he had moved but one Friday I was told that I needed to ride the bus to my aunts house. I sat with my cousins as usual and I noticed that David’s older sister was sitting up front. When we finally got to her house I ran up front and asked her where David had been. She looked puzzled. Her look of confusion turned to sadness and she began to cry.
“You don’t know?”
“You don’t know what happened to David?”
“No…I…I thought he moved.”
I remember moving out of her way and she cried as she left the bus. I was in shock and years later I was told that David and his grandfather had been killed in a car accident. It’s interesting how things stay with you huh? The main reason David stays fresh in my memory is because every now and then I rub my sons ear when we’re playing around. He gets annoyed but we have a good laugh afterward. Thanks for being a good friend David, it’s too bad I didn’t get a chance to say good-bye.
Years later I lost my Tio (uncle in spanish) Max. He was straight forward and very funny. Toward the end of his life he developed diabetes. He had it bad enough that he went blind. Out of everything bad that happened to him he still kept his sense of humor. One day my Tia’s (aunts in spanish) sat next to him and were asking questions about him but not directly to him. I remember him shaking his head and then laughing before bursting out,
“Damn, I might not be able to see anything but I’m not def.”
He was funny like that. He loved Redd Foxx and the apple pies from Crane’s in Fennville were gold. The week of his passing we were set to head down to Donna, TX to visit family. He told my mom in the beginning of the week that he felt he wasn’t going to make it on our trip. My mother told him not to talk that way and that everything would be fine. My mom told me that around 9 or 10pm she heard him yell out for her to help him. She went to check on him and he told her not to leave him. I had no idea any of this had occurred until I came home from school the following day. He had suffered a heart attack and died a few days later. It was a sad time but we made the trip either way. My Tio Max had been in the military when he was younger and it was his wish that when he passed away that his ashes be spread in different places. His wishes were fulfilled on our way down to Texas. When we arrived at his home my father spread the rest of his ashes there. We had all been in the back of the house cleaning and decided to go inside to rest. My sister Dee-von had stayed in back and I remember my father calling for her to come inside. After a bit my sister ran into the house. She seemed upset and my parents asked her what was wrong. She said that while she was in the tall grass that she saw my Tio Max and that he kept telling her to go inside. She heard my dad yell for her and looked his way. When she turned back our Tio was gone. We can only assume that there may have been a snake or something in the grass that would have harmed her and he was there to protect her. The next morning Dee-von seemed upset again. This time she told my parents that she had a dream about Tio Max. She said that everything was white with clouds on top and a ladder going up into them. She remembered climbing the ladder and Tio Max walking toward her.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m climbing up the ladder.”
“You can’t go up there?”
“Why? Because I’m not dead like you?”
“Well…yeah. Do you want to go up there with me?”
My sister says that they both climbed the ladder but when she got to the top she fell down and woke up. How does that make you feel after reading that? It amazes me how our loved ones communicate with us after they have passed. My sister was very young when this happened and it wasn’t until a year or two ago that I mentioned this and I had to remind her of it. From the look on her face I could tell she had no memory of it. I miss my Tio Max and the jokes he used to tell. I remember when he used to call me pan blanco and he would call my brother pan tostado. This is spanish for white bread and toast bread. I’m sure you get the joke but if not, he called us this because we were different shades of color.
Finally I would like to speak briefly on my Grandma Jimenez. I know I blog a lot about her but there is so much of my past that involves her. I remember my grandmother wearing perfume all the time. It was rare that she bought anything different and when she did the new stuff didn’t last long. She would always go back to her usual perfume and I loved the smell of it. When she passed away it was hard on my entire family and I. I visit her resting place as much as I can and one time something amazing happened. I felt a cool breeze whisk by me and I could smell her perfume. The sun shined bright and the smell of her perfume was around me. It put a smile on my face. Every now and then something like that happens. I’m sure my grandma visits me often but I can’t say for sure. It’s things like the ones I’ve mentioned here that remind us of our friends and family. The little things that you experienced with them is what stays with you. It keeps them fresh in your mind and it’s how our loved ones stay with us. What memories do you have? What happened to you that let you know a friend or family member was with you?