i have a friend named “grandpa.” his name isn’t really grandpa, but it’s what his grandkids and i call him. he’s the same age as my father. exactly the same age. which makes my head hurt if i ponder that detail, so i don’t. i’m about the same age as grandpa’s two daughters. i’ve thought about that detail plenty because it expands my heart. i stopped knowing my father 15 years ago and only met grandpa five years ago, which means that grandpa feels a decade older to me than my dad, and grandpa isn’t nearly as big as my dad, although grandpa is just as tough, and grandpa isn’t crazy. grandpa calls me “grandma,” which confuses people, since i am his daughter’s age, but we don’t mind the confusion, because we know what we mean. i remind grandpa of his grandma, the person in the world who loved him best.
my actual grandpa died when I was 12. i still miss him. my other grandpa died when my father was two, and i always wondered if my dad might have been less mean and less crazy if his dad hadn’t been shot in the korean war and bled out on the train to the hospital.
my friend grandpa text messages me every day. some days he is the only person who text messages me. usually our text message exchange is a version of “good morning. i love you.” the past couple days grandpa has texted me something else, other thoughts that he had upon wakening. i think grandpa might be lonely, the kind of lonely that comes from having lots of love to give and no one around to receive that depth and width and breadth of love. or maybe that’s me.