715 Benfield Road


Submitted by Sarah Collins (Actress Class of 2017)

My goodbye was five months long. Since receiving my license in April, I’d been

running around trying to do everything I could for my grandparents. I’d routinely show

up on Saturdays with glowing yellow roses for Grandma and shiny glazed donuts for

Grandpa. I would usually spend an hour to an hour and a half with them, depending on

whether or not death’s stench was acting up. Turns out 25% of the odor was emitted

through my grandmother’s mouth, which made sense since you could see the food in her

dentures, the other 75% from Grandpa’s decline.

Towards the end of Grandpa’s time, I was scared to visit alone because the last

time I visited, I walked in on Grandma trying to help Grandpa put his pants on. I waited

five minutes before I said anything. I decided to leave the room for a bit, but when I came

back, it was to the same scene. I thought about leaving for good, but decided to

speak up, instead. After Grandpa got his pants on, we talked for a bit. While slurring

amalgamations of words, he outlined his charcoal black shoe with a washcloth.

“Grandpa, I’m sorry I don’t understand what it is you want.” The more I tried to help

him, the more frustrated he got. My grandma, his saving grace, decided that he should

have some lunch, since he didn’t go down at noon. We walked him seven steps to the

table, where it took three minutes to push his chair in to his liking. She began to cut up his

turkey. He attempted to fork the pale turkey that matched his skin. I stood there,

helplessly watching. I spoke up offering to help, but he just yelled, “Would everyone just

leave me alone!” So, I did. I turned around, walked four steps towards the door and left.

That was the last thing he ever said to me.

But there I stood the following Monday at 5:00 pm along with my brother and

mom. I could hear the oxygen machine struggling from long periods of use. Grandma led

all three of us to the living room, adjacent to their bedroom. When I walked by, I saw my

grandfather comatose in bed. He looked gray. His mouth was open in the shape of an

oval; his eyes closed. It was as if I was looking death right in the face. As the visit

progressed, I saw my grandma cry for the first time. I held her supple hand and cried with

her as I sat in Grandpa’s Lazy Boy recliner. My brother got up to say his goodbye to

Grandpa, then my mom. When she returned, she asked if there was anything I wanted to

say to him. “No,” I said.

A week later, he died. Every once and a while I’ll ask myself if I made the right

decision not saying goodbye, but then I realize that I’m a kid; and that a kid shouldn’t

have to make those types of decisions. If Grandpa hadn’t died, then I wouldn’t have all

these questions. If I said goodbye, then I’d have to face the fact that it was all real, so I

never did.

Occasionally, I’ll go alone to my Grandpa’s grave. Last time, I brought him

flowers and a pumpkin. I’m new to the whole “unspoken” cemetery etiquette. Regardless,

though, I’ll sit on the ground and clean off his headstone with a tissue while I talk to him.

When I run out of words to say, I’ll put my hand on his gravestone and think quietly

about life. I’m undecided on whether or not life’s cycle is a beautiful thing; I guess that’s

something only time can tell. Perhaps I’ll know when I stop expecting to find Grandpa in

room 317, or perhaps I’ll know when I’m an adult.

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