I can remember the ninja turtle bowls.

It’s funny the things we remember. Most of my childhood is a blurry mess that floats together into poorly edited montages of completely meaningless events. Sometimes it seems like the things I should be remembering are the things I’m loosing the fastest. I feel like my memory should have things like weddings, births, and high school graduations in it. These are the things that it seems should define who we are. These are the moments we should cling to in our minds. Those are the things that are fuzziest to me right now.

What I can remember, is ninja turtle bowls.

When I was in second grade, my family moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Kansas City, Missouri. The move was for my Dad’s work, and it came up pretty suddenly. My parents needed to be in Kansas City to find a new place for us to live, but they didn’t want to have us change schools more than once in a single year. So, my two older siblings and I went to finish out the school year living with our grandparents in the little tiny town of my ancestors. I don’t have a lot of strong memories from that spring, but what I do remember is that my grandparents had these ninja turtle bowls. I remember thinking at the time that they were probably the coolest thing in the history of everything ever.

These are the things that come to mind.

I remember sitting on the screened in porch in the dark. The light from the street light would flow in through the blinds, and my grandfather would tell me about all sorts of things. Some of those things might have even been true. I remember the staunch smell of the cigarette smoke, and the way the room always seemed to be cooler than the rest of the house. There were these cubes out there, like a combination treasure chest and foot stool, and they’d have some of the strangest things in them. Their house was full of cool little things like that, and my grandfather built them. I remember thinking he could probably build just about anything. I’ve never been good at anything like that. It seemed like magic.

It’s been a hard couple of days. Yesterday I got a call from my mom, letting me know that my grandfather had passed away. He had lain down to take a nap and never woke up. It’s a quiet peaceful way to go at the end of eighty-two years. I’ve been feeling guilty for the last couple of days because I didn’t go to his birthday party a couple of weeks ago. I sat at home and threw myself a pity and loathing party. I missed my last chance to see my grandfather. I will regret that for the rest of my life. I won’t focus on that right now, though. Guilt, like grief, is selfish, inconsiderate and destructive. The next few days aren’t for me, aren’t about me.

They’re about him.