Friday, February 7, 2014
Dedicated to my Grandpa – R.I.P. Anthony Locascio
When Justin Swanson thought of that word, he didn’t think of an actor or a baseball player or a rock star. He thought of his grandpa, Rick.
An electrician, Rick made enough money to retire by the age of fifty. And he was diagnosed with lung cancer at sixty. He spent the last five years of his life fighting the battle bravely. And though the effort was futile, Rick refused to lie down and throw in the towel. He had his family, and they were worth fighting for.
But even the best fighters will tell you that you’re bound to lose one round. And after years of chemo and radiation and dialysis, Rick finally lost the fight.
Justin cried for weeks after the funeral. He cried at home, cried at work, cried while he was sitting alone in his car. Justin’s father had abandoned him and his mother after his birth, so losing his grandpa was like losing a best friend, a father, and a grandfather all in one harsh instance.
He was broken up, but he took solace in the fact that his grandpa wasn’t suffering anymore. He could finally rest in peace.
And when the time came to sell the house, Justin was charged with the task of clearing out his grandpa’s belongings.
He started with the clothing, creating two separate piles; one for regular clothing and one for vintage. He figured he could sell the vintage items to an antique clothing shop. The thought didn’t make him happy, but it was better than just throwing them away and the money would help with his college tuition.
In the living room, he tried to estimate the value of his grandpa’s television. It was one of those old box sets with four legs that you never see anymore. He couldn’t put a price on it, but he assumed the antique shop might be interested.
Crammed in the corner, he saw his grandpa’s favorite chair. A creaky wooden rocking chair that he had carved himself. There was even a date carved into the back–1973.
He stood, admiring his grandpa’s handiwork and a tear sprawled down his cheek. “Pull it together, Justin,” he said aloud. “Grandpa would want you to be strong.”
A cold air circulated, filling the room. Justin stared down at his exposed arms as the skin bubbled and turned to gooseflesh. Chills ran up and down his body, and he could feel the tiny little hairs rising on the back of his neck.
Out of the corner of his eye, the chair began to rock.
His body quivered at the sight of the chair rocking gently back and forth, the legs creaking with each motion.
RUN, was his first thought. Except he was frozen, his legs sunk into the burgundy carpet like it was made of quicksand. He couldn’t move a muscle. The lamp at the end table beside the rocking chair switched on and the light flickered under the dusty lampshade.
But then the light sizzled and faded. The cold air cleared out and the steady rocking came to a halt.
“Grandpa?” Justin asked, even though nobody was there to answer. But although his grandpa was not there physically, Justin could feel his spirit present. “It was you, wasn’t it?” A smile spread across his whitened face. “You’re still here with me.”
And that realization brought about a great sigh of relief. “Just don’t scare me like that again,” he said, and smiled.
Grandpa Rick was not really gone. He was still very much with Justin. And he always would be in spirit.
Justin finished cleaning out his house and the Swanson family listed it the following week. He sold the TV and the vintage clothing, along with his grandpa’s record collection he found stashed away in the garage. It was more than enough to pay for his college tuition. But there was one item he couldn’t bear to part with. And it still sits in the corner of his room, rocking gently from time to time, just to let Justin know he’s never truly alone.