Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Day I Shamed My Grandpa Even in Death

My grandpa's doctor
With intense lucidity I recall the day my grandpap died. He was a veteran of the second World War, with a Purple Heart and countless stars. He rarely spoke of the war, but spoke ill of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Despite this he remained of sound mind and never lost focus. He never spoke ill of Germans or espoused any sort of xenophobic undertones, unlike the rest of his mates. I loved visiting his home where he lived alone on weekends and even had a room there. I preferred it to my parents house because I could dress goth and paint my fingernails black and wear boots.

He died as he was entering his 90s, just as the 90s were leaving us behind. I remember I was so pumped to see The Matrix that day. It's like I had a date with it. I wanted to look good for Keanu, so I even decided to shave my facial hair. I applied some shaving cream and let it soak in while I pomaded my hair and combed it aside with laser precision. First gone was my goatee, then my soulpatch. All left now was my excessive mustache. Deliberately I shaved, first the edges, as they tend to frill out near the corners of your mouth. First the left side, then the right. My ritual was interrupted by a shriek. I still recoil at the thought.

Sensing something terrible had happened, I immediately ran upstairs to console my shaking, floorbound grandpa who appeared to be having some kind of attack. He had hit the panic button on his Life Alert keychain and I brought him outside where an ambulance arrived in record time. Things were looking promising.

So we're riding in back of an ambulance at top speed with some EMTs tending to my granddad, they give him a shot to calm him. When things are someone settled they look at me and laugh because I still have shaving cream on my face and hand me a towel. Respectfully I clear the facial debris and they both look upon me with horror. I had a furry Hitler mustache. I tried to explain myself but was just at a loss for words. At this point, my grandpa opens his eyes and and looks over to me and screams, "No! I've dreamed of this for 50 years! Your Third Reich will not take me alive!" At this point he grabs at my collar before losing consciousness.

In the waiting room I'm met with dirty looks, stunned and ashamed. Luckily my Walkman had fresh batteries so I could distract myself from the moment and people's stares with a Rob Zombie mixtape. That's when Dr. Rothberg, a Jewish man, walks in the room. He looks at my face and his eyes widen in shock, before he tells me the worst news of my life. I hug him and start crying in what was surely a surreal moment for him.

At this point I'm crying and half screaming. I say, "I'm not the Hitler you guys think I am. This is a mistake. I'm a good person." I grab his stethoscope and put it in his ears and say, "Listen. Listen to me. Listen to my heart." I place the instrument above my chest. "It's out of rhythm, if it even beats at all anymore."

At this point Dr. Rothberg responds, "You have a completely normal heartbeat," and gestures for me to stop touching him. "If you have any more questions you can ask my assistant."

If you think the nightmare of that night was over, no. I had a long walk home after finding it impossible to heil a cab.

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