Grandfather’s Last Wish
I walk along the frosted streets of Anchorage, Alaska smiling to myself as I stop at my cottage. I hear the high pitched sound of the kettle on the stove and my Grandfather’s rough voice singing a tune.
“I’m home Grandfather,” I shout.
“Ah, Sunny. I thought I heard the intelligence of your mind.” Chuckling softly I walk in our small, comfy kitchen and freeze. Papers written in black ink are thrown all over our oak table. Black ink pens our sinking into our cushioned chairs leaving stains, but the thing that sticks out the most is that the letters are all addressed to Violet Perry.
“Grandfather, why are these addressed to Violet? We haven’t seen her in over ten years. I know you're sick Grandfather. Is losing your sanity a side effect of being sick?” Grandfather chuckles loudly trying to break the nervous tension.
“Suns, dear, I have been writing to Violet for the past six years. I wanted to tell you, and now I wish I did.” He thrusted a piece of parchment paper in my hand.
How are you and Sunny? Is she still the Sunny I loved as a little girl … smart, sophisticated, gorgeous? The seven year old girl reading at a college level?
Anyways, Grandfather I love you very much. I hope one day we will reunite once again. Until that time, I send my love in parchment paper and jet black ink.
I stared at the letter in my hand. Grandfather never told her. He never told her he was dying. As these thoughts flushed my mind, questions also buzzed in too.
“Grandfather is this really Violet? Emerald, green eyed Violet? Pale skinned Violet? The Violet that was placed in an entire different families’ care when our dad’s died and wasn’t put in your care, like I was? My cousin Violet?” The creases of my eyes prickled with tears, as the truth weighed down on me like a dream with a horrible twist. My cousin Violet was alive and well, and from what it looked like lived in Juneau, Alaska, only 574 miles away, this whole time.
I didn’t know what emotion I was suppose to feel towards my Grandfather; anger, sadness, delight? But they all seemed to collide as I looked towards my Grandfather’s milky white pasty complexion, his dark river blue eyes, and thin pursed lips. I had to reunite them. I had to reunite us.
“Grandfather, book a plane ticket.” I stated matter of factly, tears still clinging to my flushed cheeks. He smiled, and I wasn’t going back on my decision, not when I saw a grin as big as gold on my Grandfather’s face.
“The flight will take around an hour and 35 minutes, okay.” I nodded. “I will drop you off, but when you get off the flight a taxi will be waiting and it will take you to the library, a block away from Violet’s, okay Suns.” Grandfather stated. I nodded again.
He grabbed my hands in his and attempted a smile. He was worried, and I knew it. I was worried for him, forcing myself to smile.
I said “Grandfather, we’re gonna be okay. I’m eighteen. I can do this by myself. I need you to not be stressed and don’t worry about me or Violet, just relax.” I told him as tears slid down my cheeks. Grandfather and I never left each other's sides since the incident when our dad’s were taken and his sons were killed.
“We’re like peanut butter and jelly on bread. You can’t separate us, cause we stick together no matter what comes our way, okay.”
“Okay, Suns be safe.” He said as his voice shook slightly. As I kissed him on the nose, we walked out the cottage door, to the car and drove away in comfortable silence to the airport.
Looking back at Anchorage and my Grandfather in his beaten down toyota truck, I boarded the plane and sat in a window seat near the back, letting my mind fill my head with forgotten memories, until I remember that one horrid week we had to say goodbye.
February 19th. Violet and I were in the sky lounge, sipping hot chocolate, laughing at each others milk mustache’s and letting our fingers and toes defrost. Our little girl, high pitched giggles turned to shrieks of dread. Our dad’s had been in a serious accident. We were swept into the ambulance. We saw the blood, heard the screams, and felt death lurking in the shadows. Our dad’s died the next day at 7:00 am. Violet and I still felt like any moment they would walk out of the hospital rooms with broad smiles and booming chuckles. They never did. The family that would take Violet away showed up a week later. They forced her to say hurried goodbyes and hustled her out of our broken down world. Forcing my mind to blur the memory, I leaned against the frosted window with a grim yet anxious expression. The day I dreamt would happen, as a little girl, was going to come true today. Leaning back against the cushion, I shut my eyes and blocked my thoughts from flooding in as I dozed off.
“We will land in Juneau, Alaska in 5 minutes,” the voice boomed through the packed airplane, startling mostly everyone who had drifted off. Waking up, I forced myself to look out the clouded window as everything came into view, trees, mountains, and icy covered rivers. I have been to Juneau seven times with Violet with our dad’s and Grandfather for our annual ski trips. We all used to love Juneau, cherishing the memories made here, that was until the last trip here where everything went up in smoke. As I glanced away from the window, my stomach lurched spinning 360 as the plane spiraled down to the ground. My butterflies in my stomach fluttered rapidly. I stepped off the plane onto the ground with all kinds of different food wafting in my nose. I breath in and look around and see a big yellow taxi cab with the name Smith plastered on the side. Hurrying towards the cab driver, I slide in the broken down leather seats and push my small backpack alongside with me.
“Where to?” the driver’s rough voice asked.
“Library,” I replied politely. Slowly the engine started up making muffled humming sounds, and the car drove.
We arrived at the library 30 minutes later and a wave of relief flushed over me. He was not a good driver, and we almost got in two accidents both caused by the harsh voiced taxi driver. I step out of the car and a salty breeze blows my blonde curls over my face. Seeing the library right ahead, I walk across the paved sidewalks, wondering what house is Violets. She could be a couple feet away from me laughing away with her renewed family. Forcing this image out of my head, I walk towards the doors and thrust them open. Big oak bookshelves covered with shiny and dust covered books, fat cushioned couches, creaky wood floors, and huge ancient lamps fill my view. I roam the shelves letting myself graze the bookshelves with my fingers along the old book spines and the new. Resting myself in a big fuchsia chair, I plop down with a struggling family book and let myself read the first two chapters before realizing I was here for a reason and was running out of time already. Throwing my backpack over my shoulder, I bring the book I had been reading and a Background to Calculus book down to the librarian who happily told me I could return them in Anchorage. Turning away from the librarian, I see her. Her long, straight, black hair falls almost down to her hips. With her pale complexion, and thin and dangly shape, I finally recognize her. Her piercing, emerald green eyes are buried in a How to Become a Police book. Frozen in place, I finally feel the hard truth weighing on my shoulders. I don’t know what to say, how to say it. But then another thought pushes the other one away; she was your best friend for seven years, your cousin, and has been writing to your grandfather!
“Violet,” I murmur so only I can hear, breaking out into a run. Ignoring the yelling librarian behind me, I finally grasp Violet. My head pressing into her chest. My arms knotting around her. I feel her pull away for a second before she murmurs, “Sunny, Sunny Smith! Is that you?” Her hands grasp my hips as she pulls me closer. I feel her tears drop down onto my neck and her face buried in my hair.
“I can’t believe it’s really you, V.”
“I know. I can’t grasp it, Suns,” she mutters softly. Lifting my head slightly, I look up at her red blotched face.
“It is you, it really is,” I comprehend.
Caught up in the moment, I forget why I’m here. There was a reason for this visit. Catching up, hooking arms, and reading together was not an important one. The reason I was her was to tell her Grandfather was dying and I wanted to kidnap her. This seemed like a dream breaker, but this journey was for him, so I tried to slip Grandfather in our conversations. I just couldn’t conceal it anymore.
“Violet, I’m sorry but I’m about to ruin this conversation with a horror,” she looked at me skeptically, raised her eyebrows but nodded.
“Grandfather is sick, and he can’t,” I wiped a tear that had fallen. “Well he can’t fight anymore.” Violet stared at me with her piercing emerald eyes, and I saw them slowly fill up with tears, just like when we heard the news our dad’s had died, and we weren’t going to be neighbors anymore. Steadily her tears spilled over, falling on her ghost like cheeks.
“Violet, he wants to say goodbye,” I shared. She nodded again and hugged me gently around the torso as she whispered in my ear.
“Okay, Sunny,” she said.
“You can bring your family.” She shook her head gently in my hair.
“We have to do this Sunny, by ourselves me and you,” I nodded and I knew she was right.
Slowly, we got up from the comfy chairs and entangled ourselves from each other. Suddenly, a thought came to me. Violet needed a ticket, mine was round trip. Violet seemed to read my mind.
“I have leftover birthday money. I’ll use that, anything for Grandfather.” I looked at her glumly. I wish she didn’t have to use her birthday money. I would have brought mine if I hadn’t been so caught up in the moment and mission. She smiled at me to reassure me and was off down the block. I paced myself a few steps behind watching her long strides up ahead. She turned a corner to a sky blue house with bubblegum pink shades and doors. Of course, this is the house she lived in. Violet opened the candy pink door and trailed upstairs to the very top door. She directed me in and told me to stay put while she told Debra and Jim (her guardians) what she had to do. I looked around her room and a smile instantly set on my face like a girl on her wedding day. Violet had a queen bed against the wall with a light blue duvet cover and lavender fluffed pillows. Her walls were a pale blue like her duvet cover, she had sheer white curtains and a huge glass bookcase. A fuzzy, lavender rug was on the wooden floors and in the corner she had a mahogany desk with a picture of Grandfather. A picture of her and her dad were also on the desk. She had her tongue stuck out and her eyes crossed and her father, my uncle, was holding her in front of him as he wore a cheesy fatherly grin on his face. There was a picture of her new family, too. It looked like twin brother and sisters (with fierce, fiery red hair and bright, blue eyes, who looked about 16 and Violet was 18) with two graying, brunette parents who looked kind and generous, Finally, there was a huge picture of Violet, and I on the wall in front of her desk I was dressed in jeans and a Juneau red sweater. My ringlet, blonde hair just above my bellybutton and my glasses balanced on my small nose. My arm was swung around Violet who was a good three inches taller than me. Her black hair swept at her hips with a big grin on her face her arm flopped around my shoulder lazily. We were seven in this photo and were just about to go on our annual skiing trip.
Violet burst in the room, “They said yes, and booked a ticket for me,” she smiled heartily like the little girl in her photo. I smiled back.
“You decorated the room how we imagined it has when we were kids,” I spoke softly. Our favorite colors were always pastel blue and lavender. She smiled again. “I always wanted you to see my room.” I hugged her once more and then she pulled me down the stairs and out into the streets. She hollered at a taxi cab and we piled in soundlessly.
We pushed through security and were soon seated on the plane. I at the window seat, while she sat next to me, her head leaned back against the seat. I looked out the window as we glided toward the mandarin orange and grapefruit pink, sunset sky. Violet looked slightly over me and at the sky and shared a sad smile with me. I had a feeling it was the first time for her back in Anchorage since are dad’s died, since the last time we saw each other. I reached over and squeezed her hand. It had been a long day.
When we landed on the ground, we hustled through security, sped along in a cab, and finally knocked on the door of Grandfather and I’s little cottage. I let out a breath of relief. I could feel all the anxiety locked in my chest drain out. Violet looked sick and even more pale than her usual self.
“It’s gonna be okay. Everything will work out,” I reassure her as she slowly nods, slightly shaking.
“Okay, Suns,” she says. I turn the handle of the oak door. The kettle isn’t going and the oven isn’t even warm The letters were not picked up. Almost as if he expected more letters to come. Finally, with Violet trailing behind me, I gently tap on his door. “Come in,” Grandfather croaks. I open the door and reveal myself. Grandfather gives a big grin and an even wider one when he sees Violet behind me. He embraces both of us as we fall into his open arms. He whispers in our ears.
“Girls, you have to understand life is not about death, so don’t live in fear about it. Life is not in the past, so you have to live in the present. Life is not about the future so stop worrying about it,” Grandfather laughs. “Life is about the paths you take and the story that goes along with it. Girls, don’t ever lose each other to the world.”
I cried. Violet cried, but he brushed away our tears smiling. He had finally gotten his granddaughters back together, and now he could finally let go.
Violet and I grasped each other, too afraid of letting go just yet. Our tears falling down our cheeks, being chased by another and another. I cried for my Grandfather. I cried for my Dad. I cried for little Sunny. I cried for my Mother, and I cried for my future knowing I would live my life without these people. I cried because my past was finally disappearing, and now I had a new adventure ahead. I finally felt like I was home, reunited with Violet and it kinda scared me.