Sundays are days I still remember

My grandpa was an interesting man when it came to Sunday’s. The sound of his voice yelling out loud still rings in my head “church, church, church!” while he is walking down the hallway banging on the floor with his cane. I laugh now just thinking of it because he was a tall man with glasses, plaided shirt with nice slacks, and his cane. That cane, which he used for everything, was the symbol of how strong he was still willing to stay away from being in a wheel chair, so that to me now shows how stubborn he truly was. He didn’t speak much English so that is one reason he would use one word to describe what he needed from us. I still wish I knew how to speak Navajo so I could at least understand him, but over time I was learning. From my perspective I wanted to be a good girl and I listened to him when he wake us up early in the morning on Sunday’s while he was at our house. “Chay” was what we called him and just “grandpa” because my siblings and I didn’t speak fluent Navajo as well so we had to work with what we did know. My mom, three older sister’, my youngest brother, and I all loved him very much and we did make it as comfortable as we could when he was at our house. It’s cute to think of him because I remember watching my grandpa and my mom having their conversations so I would try to hang out with them at times in the living room. At the house there was chair just for him that he always sat in right next to the fireplace. He gave us all Navajo nicknames which is cool to think of because he knew all of us and loved all of us in his own way. My name meant round eyes which he gave to me when I was a baby because I was always searching looking around and also one of my older cousin’s asked my mom “auntie your baby looks like e.t!” That then set off a chain of events and of course they all told my grandpa what my cousin said and when I was put into his arms, the name round eyes stuck. So, I was already pouring coffee for him and my mom at a young age, 8 years old, and to me that was the least I could do. I was always a tall, skinny, athletic built little girl because I was always outside playing keeping myself busy because when I was younger we didn’t stay inside playing games on a day-to-day basis. Growing up on the reservation where there is very little to take you away from the scenic view of it all is a blessing to me now as an adult. I had a chance to enjoy the outdoors and create memories of my past. It seems like just yesterday that I can smell the fresh air in the spring time and see the fire burning in the stove that my grandpa started to keep the house warm for us in the fall and winter. He was a loving man to us and if I could have understood him when I was young I think it would have been easier to talk to him. My favorite story is when my mom and I were getting him into bed and he is talking to my mom in our language, Navajo, and he sits on the bed waiting for us to help him get to sleep. I help put both his legs on the bed and I have to put the blanket on him to cover him but I’m so tiny and the blankets are so heavy I am crawling on his legs. My mom and him are laughing at the sight of me because they think it’s so adorable I want to help and she says “want me to help her?” and he says “no its ok she gots it” both of them speaking while I struggle. That story always hits home for me because my mom tells me that story every time I ask about him and it never gets old. I was 5 years old in that story and through time I only got better at assisting with him when he was at our house. When I would get back from church on Sunday’s when he was there I would go to the living room and tell him “hi chay!” then I know from the smile on his face he was happy I listened. Then, the first thing right after would be “coffee” and I would get it for him with pleasure. With him we found a way to communicate and it made sense to us because we both grew up in different generations and lifestyles that I am happy I did try. A while back, like a year or so ago, I had a dream and it was in our house before he passed away. I went in through the front door, I was an adult in the dream, and I went pass the kitchen and straight to the living room to see him there with his cane at his side. It was surprising to see him there and I went to him and gave him a big hug because dreams like that don’t ever last very long. I was kneeling beside the chair he was on and I was able to understand everything he said to me like it was being fed through a translation device and we were talking. He told me how much he loves me and that I needed to be strong because I am worthy of love and if I continue down the path that I am going in life that I will never forgive myself. It was hard not to cry in the dream because all of his words were true and I couldn’t talk back to him and I told him “I love you grandpa and I will work hard on bettering myself because I miss you!” I wish it lasted longer but that dream was over and I woke up. I truly feel that seeing him in my dreams was a reminder that he is apart of me and the memories of him do live on in me showing me that I am loved. Sunday’s are a reminder of him when I pour my coffee and think of him saying “church, church, church!”. I love him and being able to bring him up to my siblings and mom remind me that his memory lives on through us.

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