Monday, August 3, 2009

When the Gas Gauge is Broken

The walls became her best friend when he died. That's what she said at least. I didn't expect it either.

In her backyard my grandmother moved in a trailer for her father. His name is Richard but my family likes to call him a dick. He had diabetes and kidney problems so every other day he had to wake up early to take a bus to dialysis. When he got back he took naps, tired from the procedure.

I remember one day Dick was having some complications and I had to drive him to the hospital to be examined. "Take him in your truck," my grandpa told me. "It's easier for him to get in and out of."

At dinner one night my grandma was telling me about how hard everything was for her. How alone she was. How there was no one left for her.

The night he died my parents rushed to the hospital, unsure of what had happened. They told me and my brother that Dick had some sort of accident and that they'd be back later.

Around the age I started actively pursuing girls was when I learned the true power of guilt. It was this time period I also spent less and less time with my family and more time loathing the next time I would have to visit them.

On a routine occasion of being sent to my uncle's to borrow a tool for my dad I overheard my grandpa speaking with my uncle.

"Watch," my grandpa said. "The only time he ever comes down here anymore is when he wants something."

I acted like I didn't hear him, though my stomach began to cramp.

"My dad wants to know if he can borrow a crow bar," I said, trying to cover-up any signs of discomfort.

They looked at each other with a slight smirk.

Hours past a self-cooked dinner my mom and dad called home on the night of the accident. The moon had already chased the sun away and darkness had accompanied.

This was the first time I ever had to tell my brother anything of importance.

"Zain." I hesitated. "Umpie's dead." At this point some would say we burst into tears, but that's not what really happened. It was more of a drip of tears, just quieter than a leaky faucet.

Some arbitrary time later my mom and I had a discussion.

"I thought it was grandpa Dick when your grandmother called," she told me.

"Yeah that's what I thought too. I had no idea it was Umpie. I figured Nannie would have told you."

We looked at each other in understanding, knowing both of us were wishing it had been Grandpa dick who had died, as awful as it sounds. And now, there's no guilt from finally admitting what I secretly wished, only guilt from knowing all the time wasted thinking Umpie had more gas left in the tank.

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