Today, I was thinking about my Grandpa Jerry Warfield, particularly the last few days I spent with him before he died.
I live in Pittsburgh, and my grandpa lived in Lorain, Ohio. I could only spend the weekend with him because I had school. I got to my grandpa’s house Friday night. It was a little late, so we just watched a movie, talked a little and went to bed.
On Saturday, we did a lot of talking and also went to the Harrison Cultural Community Center, a center that was started by my late Grandma Deloris. That’s another story. After we were at the Harrison Center, my grandpa and I went back to his house. Then, we went to his music room, and we listened and played some music together.
I can never forget his music room. It was small and messy with music papers all over the place. I always got on him for not cleaning up, but he always said, “Isaiah, I don’t have time to clean. I only got time for music.” I always got annoyed with that answer, but now I just can’t help but laugh about it. In his music room, we listened to jazz. We listened to Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman, Oscar Peterson and so many other jazz musicians. It was great. My grandpa had a deep love for jazz, and it made me have a love for jazz, too. I listened to jazz almost every single day because of my grandpa, but then stopped once he was gone. We also played some music together in the music room. He would play the saxophone, and I would play the drums and guitar. I knew how to play the drums, but I was still learning how to play the guitar. My grandpa didn’t mind though. He loved that I was a musician just like him. However, he really wanted me to learn how to play the saxophone. He said to me, “Maybe in the summer I can teach you how to play the saxophone, and you can teach me how to play the drums. What do you think of that?” I happily agreed to it. It was a deal between us. However, we can never honor that deal.
Later on, we ate some food, talked and discussed God and the Bible. My grandpa was a true man of God. For me, his spirituality was always pure and true to me. He helped me keep my faith strong with and without him. I always thank God for that. My grandpa was talking about going to church Sunday, and I wanted to go with him. My grandpa was happy to hear this. He was filled with pure joy. My grandpa would always go to church alone, so he was very excited to have someone accompany him to church. It’s amazing how something so simple can have a major impact on someone. I never knew though that it would be my last day with my grandpa.
It was Sunday, and my grandpa and I went to church together. I remember how excited my grandpa was with me wanting to go to church with him. He kept talking about his church, and how I was really going to love it. When we arrived, he introduced me to a lot of his church members with a lot of pride and happiness. It made me happy to see him happy. We both sat down in the front, but then he got up to the front with a bunch of other people. Then, service started, and my grandpa and other people started singing together. I was in the front row, and I could hear my grandpa sing. I can’t lie, his singing was kind of awful. He was barely in tune, and he was a little off with his timing. However, I couldn’t help but smile at him for singing to God with all his heart. His singing was genuine, and I couldn’t help but admire his singing.
After the service, my grandpa talked with some people, and I ended up talking to this cute girl with glasses. I thought she was the same age as me, but my grandpa later told me that she was 16 years old. My grandpa was ready to play matchmaker, but I told him to forget it. He kept pestering me about the girl, and I told him that she was too young. He said, “You’re only two years older than her, Isaiah. But if it really bothers you, you just need to wait two years for her, then you two will be good to go.” My grandpa and I laughed at his comment. To this day, I wonder about the girl and wonder if I’ll ever see her again.
We were back at his house, and we spent some more time in his music room. Then, we just talked and ate some more food. My mom arrived at my grandpa’s house to pick me up. I hugged my grandpa and told him that “I loved him.” He said the same thing and also said, “I’ll see you next time.” I left with my mom and went back to Pittsburgh.
A few months later, my grandpa was diagnosed with dementia. He was never the same after that. I couldn’t talk to him like I used to, and it was really hard to be around him. He was different, lost, confused and in pain. Dementia had my grandpa in 2016. My grandpa died last year in August.
Although I saw my grandpa when he had dementia, I knew deep down inside that it wasn’t him. Dementia had already taken my grandpa away, and I was only left with fragments of him. Truthfully, I had lost my grandpa before he died. I already had my last moments and days with him, and I can never get them back. He’s gone, but he’s not forgotten.
I love you, grandpa. I hope our last days together were as meaningful and special to you as they were for me.