When you were younger, you built a house of your own design with your own hands for your family. In later years, I watched in awe as you rebuilt the kitchen, and I questioned how you knew how to do it. You answered all of my numerous questions, you always did. When I was a small child, you built us a go-cart out of plywood and pushed my brother and I around the back patio until we, not you, tired. You used to let us sit on your back while you swam countless laps in the pool. You taught me advanced algebra when I was in junior high school. You were my young, healthy grandparent. You seemed invincible to me.
In more recent years, you showed me an article on the 50 worldwide destinations an avid traveler should go to. You had been to 36 of them. You told me stories of each. You recounted the numerous books you had read and why you enjoyed them. A few months ago, we sat around your most recent large jigsaw puzzle and you told me about going to the Chicago World Fair on your way out to Annapolis to start at the Naval Academy. You told me about dropping out of the Naval Academy to marry the love of your life. You’ve told me other stories too. You have lived a long and adventurous life.
Yesterday I visited you in a hospital room, you can barely move, you can’t speak, but you held my hand. You opened your once beautiful, clear blue eyes that are now cloudy and unfocused. You didn’t see me, but I saw you. You probably don’t know what has happened to you. You who have always been so proud and strong willed, lie in a hospital bed. My heart aches to see you like this. I know you hate it too.
To me you will always be the Johnny of my childhood. I love you!