My memories don’t have a real beginning or end. No defined sequence. That is how I can describe my life with my grandfather. He was just always there. Whether on the phone, or in person, He has been the most consistent male figure in my life.
My memories of my grandfather are like snapchat stories: a lot of 15 second moments that lead to the events of July 29th. He was my mentor, my provider and my annoying father figure that wouldn’t let me do shit. Like that one time I went out past curfew and he punished me for the next two weeks. He was the center of the Melian family. He was also the best example of what I should look for in a husband: strong, caring, responsible and charming.
He lived in his fedora, button-downs and aviator glasses. He forced me to dance Salsa and "Son" with him. He tickled me when I was in a bad mood. He let all 10 of my cousins sleep over and wreak havoc when we all visited his home in the Dominican Republic. He forced us to shut the TV and play in the rain and made us use our imaginations “cuando se fue la luz”.
As the business of living continues, we grew older. I was becoming an adult and the daily phone chats turned into weekly phone calls. Those three month stays at Grandpa's turned into 2 weeks because of work purposes. The tickles turned into life advice that I made sure to engrain in my heart.
I never noticed his health deteriorating, and he never let anyone notice how bad his eyesight had gotten. Even with his weight loss, he was more energetic than any millennial. He would take his medications and keep trucking, even caring for my grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “I promised to always take care of her,” He has said. He always said and did the right thing. Even when my uncle died in 2012, he comforted us by saying “All we can do is keep living our best life. Cuidense.”
When I got fired from being a corrections officer in April 2015, I thought my life was over. “The world is so big” he told me, “ This is just another chapter in your book. Keep moving forward even when you want to cry.” And that I did. I kept moving forward from what I thought was the worse experience of my life. Little did I know he was prepping me for life without him. In my eyes, he was going to live forever. He was going to walk me down the aisle, and see my future children. Even still, I knew he was on borrowed time. During one of my recent visits, I had to carry him to bed, “look how the tables turn, ma. This is how life is.”
Our final conversation was on June 27th 2016. It was if he knew he was going to pass. He told me he was “tired.” “But why are you tired? Did you eat?” “No mai, just ready to go. Remember everything I ever told you ok? Que Dios te bendiga.”
At this moment, I am in Dominican Republic spending way too much time with my family, and honoring the memory of my grandfather. A man who gave us everything but his limbs. It is my only hope to love, live and create the way my grandfather did. I dedicate my newly revamped blog to him. Manuel was here and now he’s gone, while the world spins madly on.