I was just writing about my grandfather, my Papa, and a misstep on the keyboard erased it all. For some reason I can never come back from an erasure like that. Once I’ve written something I find it almost impossible to even attempt a second draft.

What I was saying is that my time with my papa is limited; I’m acutely aware of our diminishing opportunities to see one another. This weekend I’ll be driving down to see him and driving back sad that it might be the last time. He’d laugh at me for writing this—for writing him into the grave. He thinks he’s as healthy as a horse and he’s as stubborn as a mule. He wants to do everything for himself (except the things he expects his wife Judy to do, but he’d expect those things even if he were 20).

Don’t get me wrong; he doesn’t expect to live forever. He’s been telling me for 15 years now that he has his bags packed and by the door.

I have always thought of Papa as the strongest man in the world. And having survived multiple heartattacks, by-pass surgeries, strokes, and an aneurysm, perhaps he’s proven me right. When I was little he’d swing me around like a doll. He’d tickle me ferociously. He’d be an elephant or a horse, and I’d ride him precariously like the girls in the sequins at the circus. He had so much charisma and spunk. He still has so much charisma and spunk. I scoff at my mom when she talks about him like he’s fragile or old. I forget that he’s a 75 year-old man, a very weathered 75-year-old man.

Seeing him with my girls makes him young again. I see that mountain of strength and that ball of fiery energy. I see his tenderness and his silliness. I sometimes think that my Papa was born to grandfather—that maybe he did that better than he did anything else. I love that London brings that out in him. I love that she gets to experience just what I did 26 years ago.