My uncle called me a few days before my wedding in somewhat of a panic.
It was a long-distance call (and probably one where I gladly accepted the charges.) The typical pre-nuptial preparations had everyone in the family crazed, The Dean and I had work and grad school stress through the stratosphere, and we had both come down with bronchitis. We spent the last-minute days before our wedding reinacting some sickbed version of John and Yoko's Bed-In for Peace. And now, to top it all off, there was the matter of some worrisome test results that befell my grandfather, the subject of my uncle's call.
I don't remember if my grandfather was scheduled for some tests, or whether dire results had already become known. What I remember was the urgency in my uncle's voice.
"I think it would be a nice idea," he began slowly, "if you and Pop-Pop had a special dance."
The saccharine Daddy's Little Girl dance would not take place at my wedding, a casualty of my father passing away when I was 15. Instead, I would dance with my uncle, the one on the phone with the idea that a dance with my grandfather would be a good idea.
"He might not be here much longer, you know, and this would mean a lot to him," my uncle said. I agreed, yes, absolutely, we would dance. But to what song?
"Ask your band if they know "For the Good Times," he suggested. "It's by Al Green. Pop-Pop always sang that to you when you were little."
"Yes. They play weddings, right? They know the song."
And they did, and so they played it during my wedding when I danced with my grandfather. And I remembered my grandfather singing this, twirling me around the living room as a little girl.
Yeah, the lyrics aren't quite exactly what one would think of for such a dance, but it became our song as we were ablaze with flashcubes, the focus of a mini paparazzi-blitz on the dance floor. As the bandleader sings lay your head upon my pillow, the videographer captures me resting my head on my grandfather's shoulder - if only for a moment, once again the exhausted little girl in need of a lullaby - and more than a few relatives in need of tissues.
That was 16 years ago this month. And in the definition of irony, it would be my uncle who would die less than three years later.
My grandfather, on the other hand, would defy the odds. Time and time and time again. He would outlive his son, an infant granddaughter, most of his siblings, his wife of 62 years.
Until today, this morning, when he ceased being caught in the twilight and we once again walked in the garden, looking skyward.
And tonight, I'm trying to remember the good times amidst the sadness. And there were good times - so many of them flashing by in the Kodachromed memories in my mind.
Don't look so sad, I know its over
But life goes on and this world keeps on turning
Let's just be glad we have this time to spend together
There is no need to watch the bridges that were burning
Lay your head on my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body close to mine
Hear the whisper of the raindrops
Blow softly against my window pane late at night
Make believe you love me one more time
For the good times
For the good times ....