My grandfather loved sweets, and, as any child, I did, too. We would sneak drumstick ice cream cones, share chocolate covered bismarcks, make snacks out of Kraft caramel squares, and find particular joy in Dairy Queen Blizzards and the jell-o at Skippers. A tootsie roll was always stashed in his pocket because they were my favorite.
He had been the only father figure I had in my childhood, and I’d lived with him and my grandmother for over a decade. He was pretty spectacular.
My grandfather had dementia in his later years.
At my high school graduation, the crowd seemed to overwhelm him at one point. He gazed around for a minute before approaching and asking me, “Excuse me, miss. Who is it that I am here to see?” I had thought he was kidding.
The weekend my husband and I got engaged, he was overjoyed. “Never let this one go, sunshine. He’s a good man. Promise me! Don’t let this one go. He’ll take care of you the rest of your life,” he had sternly insisted. An easier promise has never been made. That was the last day he knew who I was.
The final time I saw him, I had asked if I could give him a hug. He’d looked at me suspiciously and agreed. When I pulled away, a glimmer of recognition sparked in his eyes. Then he blinked, and—nothing.
“Want a tootsie roll, miss?”