Last Rose

Dear Grandfather,

I always wondered how I could belong in a family that was so, so cruel and so, so unlike me. I know most of my extended Asian family never accepted me. Even when I was going insane in my doctorate studies, it was never good enough. I remember their jealousy. How is it possible I achieve more academic success than their own children? They lashed out at me at every turn and constantly reminded me how terrible my life was as a graduate student.

There were many times where I felt like I did not have a family. The family on my mom’s side was nearly all gone, and all I had left was my dad’s side. I must be an anomaly. I must accept this, I thought.

But you were different. You made me feel like I belonged. I never once doubted that you loved me.

You were always so kind to me, to everyone, and you never spoke one cruel word to anyone. You were polite and delightful, even when someone was being difficult or rude. You never demanded money or hurt others to feel powerful.

You just loved all of us. That was your way.

You were a liberal genius and spoke three languages. You were sensitive, artistic, and above all, classy. Never feeling that you were any better than anyone else, yet who could forget your dapper, yet humble sophistication? Every grandchild agreed, your style was cool and unforgettable. Your gentle, smart manners left everyone with lingering joy.

I listened to them berate me, reminding me again of what a disappointment I was. Jeering at me for not making enough money to give to them to spend on clothes, gambling, lavish trips, and drugs, but demanding nothing from their own children. Laughing at me while I quietly sat next to your dead body and looked down.

I didn’t feel sad at all.

As soon as I saw you, I noticed your absence immediately. It was definitely your body, but you, Grandfather, were in the eternal elsewhere. And I just knew, it must be beautiful.

I felt happy. I knew you weren’t suffering anymore, and I knew you weren’t scared anymore. I knew right then and there, God would take you into his loving hands and reward you for the kindness with which you lived your life.

I am so sorry, Grandfather, I wasn’t able to say my last goodbye. I know it is a decision I will always regret for the rest of my life. Please forgive me.

As I placed a final rose upon your shoulder, I realized that you were the only paternal family member who never hurt me.

When we said our final goodbyes at the furnace, I could not restrain my grief. My parents and siblings sobbed, and I found myself surprised at my resolve to remain strong weakening.

Even though I knew you were okay, I selfishly knew I would miss you for the rest of my life.

We couldn’t help but love you and your beautiful presence.

My sudden emptiness continued even as night surrounded me. I felt a terrible despair.

But suddenly, I had a thought that gave me the will to start typing again.

Because someday, I know I will hear you call for me again and smile at me like you always did, even amongst a sea of frowns.


Thank you for giving me my beautiful family.

I understand where we came from now.

Say my name
So I will know you’re back, you’re here again
For a while

Oh let us share
The memories that only we can share

Tell me about
The days before I was born
How we were as children

You touch my hand
These colors come alive
In your heart and in your mind

I cross the borders of time
Leaving today behind to be with you again

We breathe the air
Do you remember how you used to touch my hand?

You’re not aware
Your hands keep still
You just don’t know that I am here

It hurts too much
I pray now that soon you’ll release
To where you belong

You touch my hand
These colors come alive
In your heart and in your mind
I cross the borders of time
Leaving today behind to be with you again

Please say my name
Remember who I am
You will find me in the world of yesterday
You drift away again
Too far from where I am
When you ask me who I am

Say my name
These colors come alive
In your heart and in your mind
I cross the borders of time
Leaving today behind to be with you again

Say my name

-Sharon den Adel