I’m so tempted to do a gossip blog, where I sign it off “XOXO Gossip Girl” but I don’t know of much gossip, so I’ll just continue to write about the pieces of me. My family is what I know best.
John Joseph Juliano :
May 28, 1939 – May 17, 2000
He was a configuration of dry and loving humor. He built walls that not many could break. From what I could remember at least. He seemed rough and jagged around the edges. Not someone that was easy to be around. But his eyes told a different story. They showed the compassion that he was willing to give, if only his body didn’t restrain him.
At the age of six, this stuff was barely evident. Not quite oblivious, but irrelevant to say the least. I knew he had his own story, and at the age of six, mine was in the midst of being written. So there I would sit next to his maroon lazy boy recliner, situated in front of the television, trying to turn the pages of his book. He wouldn’t say a word, just fixate on the TV. And I would watch too. Not understanding most of what was being said, but that didn’t matter. I could catch glimpses of his reflection on the dark spots of the screen. I never once saw him look down at me. A few times, he would ask for me to retrieve his freshly peeled cucumber and diet cranberry ginger ale. With pleasure I would go, being careful not to spill any on the carpet. In a way I feared him. So much, that it made me resentful. But I wasn’t scared of his powerful voice, or his large hands. I was scared that I couldn’t get close. That I couldn’t love, or be loved by him. I didn’t know him. He was just a man that I called Grandpa. But that meaning was empty. His touch … which was rare, was cold. But I knew his heart was warm. That’s why I sat. Right next to his maroon lazy boy recliner, trying to turn the pages of his book.
From what I could remember, his salty white and grey hair perfectly crowned his head, leaving a few strands to cover the top of his balding scalp. His cheeks brushed by the darkness of a five o’clock shadow that never seemed to go away. His belly plump and hidden beneath a white Hanes short sleeve shirt, which was indubitably tucked into a neutral colored sweat pant. His feet had always been reclined and propped up on the chairs extra extension. One was dressed in a white tube sock, the other, in an ace bandage. Large and stout, it rested. No really a foot at all. Beneath the bandages were the results of a lifelong struggle with Diabetes. His toes had been removed as an effort to salvage the remainder of the foot. It rested like I rock on that lazy boy recliner. But he showed no pain. You can see it in his eyes, that hid just beneath the thickened lenses of his wide framed glasses, that he was happy. Even though he showed that tiny, one bedroom house that he was miserable.
Like a puppy I followed, (far enough away so that I wouldn’t catch a frightful glare) behind him, when he walked those few steps toward the kitchen table. There he would sit, awaiting his round of medicine. Like a buffet, Grandma would serve him a platter, usually consisting of one or two bottles of those ugly orange medicine containers, a glass of water, a box that supplied his needle and his insulin, and to the side, cream and a new bandage were placed. I was curious as ever, so I stepped a little closer, eventually wiggling my way into a seat right beside him. When I didn’t hear his burly voice ring, I knew it was safe. I knew this was love, as weird as that is. But I watched, as he threw back a few white pills of odd shape, and as he prepared his insulin for his shot. And I stood up, at risk of falling, as Grandma aided to his wounded foot, that most likely should have been taken as well. I observed. And he observed me, sometimes. Just sometimes. That way, I knew he cared. And then I would follow him back to the lazy boy recliner, where he remained, like always. Now, trailing a little closer than before. Thinking that in a way, I was helping him. Even though I wasn’t doing much at all.
“He knew he was dying…” words of such sort ring in my ears. I think he did know. That’s why his eyes were so pleasant. They contradicted everything about him, his speech, his movement, his body, they were all rough. But his eyes were soft. They were calm and observant. He knew. He knew to not say a single word, but to enjoy the things around him. Even if there wasn’t much to enjoy from that lazy boy recliner. But he knew. And I didn’t.
But now, I take his looks, and his ability to see. To observe, and to analyze (even if I can’t find the meaning). In return, this makes me feel.
At the age of approximately six, there’s not much blame to pin on a little girl. But the question always resides. “Why didn’t you go to Grandpas wake? You had your choice, and you said no.” At a young age, it wasn’t because I was naive, nor was it that I didn’t understand what was happening. It was that I would no longer be able to see his eyes.