Memory. The dictionary defines it as the mental ability to recall past experiences. We think of it as that picture we saw, the words she said. Who in your life is so vivid in your memory that you could describe him or her without a second thought? For me, it’s my grandpa. But when I was small, I couldn’t say “Grandpa,” so 13 years ago, Theodore Lazarus became Paw Paw.
To all the grandkids, Paw Paw was full of fun and games. We all remember his favorite expressions, the ones that would pop out each time we saw him. Luckily, we visited Paw Paw quite often. We often overheard his little squabbles. “No way, José!” Paw Paw would yell; in response, we would shout back, “Yes way, José!” and burst into giggles. My younger siblings and cousins would tell Paw Paw about school, or ballet, or baseball, or their pet iguana, and just when they got into the story, he’d roar, “No kiddin’!” with a huge smile on his face. Paw Paw helped us remember that life should be fun.
Being the oldest of all the grandchildren, I remember more than my siblings and cousins do, but we all remember how predictable Paw Paw’s clothes would be. Most likely, he’d be wearing a white cotton shirt under another shirt, which was the kind that is red or blue, has one or two breast pockets, is plaid or striped, with buttons down the front. Being loose, it covered his big, round belly. He’d be sitting in the tall wooden chair in the corner by his desk, shouting into the black telephone with the big buttons. Or, if he wasn’t there, he’d be in his black leather recliner, watching a game on TV. Sometimes he’d let us snuggle next to him.
When Paw Paw wasn’t relaxing, he’d be in the backyard garden, weeding and pulling, planting and potting, until the time came in the spring or summer when the garden came alive with the colors of the flowers and vegetables he raised. I remember his old, worn hands that did everything: built the wooden tree house for me to play in, built the toolshed, plugged in the Barbie...