Call me ASAP.
That was the text from my Dad on July 2. I was at a BBQ, woozy with an alchemic storm of heat, people, and drinks. I knew what the voice on the other end would say, knew it was coming. Funny how it still socks the air from your stomach, though. My Grandpa was gone. I stared hard down the slope of Kent St, glared at a tangle of roses to my right. Somewhere, birds were singing brashly, unaware of their impending doom or mine, or anyone else's. I sipped my beverage and listened to the birds, as mellifluous and ignorant as ever.
Bob Hjort, a name only half as Norwegian as they come when you consider that his father's name was Halfdan Hjort. One can almost hear Vikings somewhere bellowing their approval. On July 2, 2011, he went to be with Jesus. Bob Hjort loved to garden--took utmost pride in it, in fact. As kids, we'd get lost in the orderly rows of marigolds, we'd rest in the shade of hydrangeas, we'd run our fingers along rows of corn and fill our bellies with raspberries. We'd forage through Grandma's dress up box, and once clothed in fluid chiffon, we'd gallop into the garden where another imaginary scenario awaited our full attention.
Grandpa liked to beat the sun in rising every morning, finding it perfectly acceptable to take the dog for a walk at 4am and then retire with an English muffin and coffee to the living room where the sun would greet him listening to the police scanner for signs of life in Keizer's predawn hours. He had a copper mug filled with pesos, the exotic equivalent to gold doubloons to our young eyes, and he'd offer us a bounty if we refilled his water glass or returned his used dishes to the kitchen. I used to dream of Mexico and how I'd spend the money someday.
I'll miss him, but I wouldn't trade every minute I spent at his house, in his garden, taking predawn walks, for anything in the world. While home this past week, I got to see a bunch of old slides from his younger years, when my mom and her siblings were itty bitty. When I saw the photo below, I audibly gasped because not only is it an incredible photo, but I feel it represents the way Grandpa lived: Freely, full of verve and life and humor and gusto. Exactly how a life should be spent.
Oh, and the little girl on the right with the stylin' side pony at the beginning of this post? Yeah, that's me.
Graceland (Paul Simon Cover)