“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”
Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.
As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.
Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.
Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.
I read this last night and bawled my eyes out. It was so raw and emotional that tears streamed down my face and made it hard to read at the end.
As much as it is about love and aging it is about loss. The loss of memories, the very things that make us who we are and what those around us mean in our lives. What happens when your memories slip through your fingers like sand and you barely remember who you are, never mind those around you. What it is to see the person you love to not remember who you are and the pain that goes with that. It is a story that I am sure many can relate to, and that is the most heartbreaking thing of all.
My father has started with dementia and I see this as a preview of things to come. I have known people with Alzheimer’s and it’s heartbreaking to see them struggle to remember and to also see family members sad expressions as their father, mother or grandparents not know who they are and confuse them with people from the past. As short as this story is I had to stop a few times to get a grip on my emotions as they overwhelmed me a few times. I suggest that if you start reading this one to have tissues handy as you will need them.
A powerful short story that left me sleepless thinking about it.
ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review