I was walking home from the bus stop a few nights ago. It was late and rainy and I was coming home from a long day at work tired. I was walking in the drizzle, enjoying the quiet night and noticing how dark the evening was-- a sign that fall is on it's way. My mind was calm and I was appreciating the moment when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I smelled toast. Really. The smell was with me outside in the rain and it remained with me for about a block. And out there in the rain, with the smell of toast in the air, I remembered my grandfather. My Abuelo.
Toast always reminds me of Abuelo. He would toast his ham sandwiches in the toaster oven and the smell would permeate the entire house. It's so interesting the things, memories, and spaces people leave behind when they fly away. The pieces of themselves that remain with the living. I am sure that for Abuelo, the toast was just something he loved to eat. It was something he did so regularly that I doubt he ever put much thought into it. And yet, for me, it's so much more. I smell toast and I think of him; I see him in my mind for a moment and I remember how I loved him.
On that night, I remembered how I loved to hold his hand. When we were sitting together watching TV or driving home after a family meal, I would often take his hand in mine and hold it. We wouldn't say very much at all. It's not the words that I recall. But I remember holding his hand. It's that memory that makes me both miss him and brings me comfort all at once. Abuelo had thin, bony hands. When you held them, you could tell that they had known hard work and sacrifice, and strength and love. I always felt safe when I held his hand. And so very, very loved. I miss holding his hand. And when I smelled the toast that evening, I felt...I knew...that Abuelo was there with me. Walking me home in the rain and the wind and the night. And I was comforted.