My Grandfather's Pacemaker

Bright constellations shimmering against the ocean floor. My grandfather was born for the sea, or maybe it was the sea that had been brought upon him. He stared down to the blue and looked up at the twinkling stars and couldn’t ever imagine a world without these peppering kisses of droplets sprinkling against his freckled face.


Everything needs an engine. Even a mighty boat.


February night, cold air sneaking its way through the door that was ajar. Sneaking its way through his veins and all the way to his heart. Rhythm suddenly stopped, the beats were uncertain. A nurse walked in, called the doctor and made sure to close the curtain. It was under attack, his heart that is. The mother organ. Only physically though, his love and kindness still open. And that was it for a while, that’s what kept him alive for so long. Not very long but still longer than most.


Who would’ve thought that the young sailorman, the scuba diving king, would be depending on a machine to keep his heart beating and the summer air clean. But there It was and here we were and even though he couldn’t form many words, I still know if he could he’d be joking everywhere and finding a way, in his mind, to still crack a joke.


A pacemaker. Artificial life. But nothing artificial about it said my grandmother, his wife, because after all he was still here and that will was what mattered. Little did we know that his biggest dreams had been shattered. Yes, he loved us, and he loved being with us and his family visiting did help him recover but what is it that happens when your major interest is over? Would it feel like everything was out of order? My dad said he wasn’t sure, but oh boy I knew it. How could I put in doubt his love for the sea and fishing and doing? A hardworking man he was, you can’t just expect him to be okay and resting. Not when he’d rather be put in action and fighting and testing.  


A pacemaker, they call them. Those little machines that send electric shocks so your heart’s valves stay open. A pace, a rhythm, a beat. Could really help you live but, apparently, not to stay on your feet. That’s when I understood and that’s when I saw it; my grandpa’s heart didn’t beat to pump blood, it beat to imitate oceans.


We took him to the beach, to see it for one last time. The pacemaker seemed to smile, his eyes seemed to shine and everything was okay, at least for a while, at least for some time. Every heart beats to its own rhythm and that’s completely okay, you just have to find what is yours and what makes you brave.


September afternoon, the old man passed away, the pacemaker stopped. It was bound to happen sometime anyway but I still cried. It’s not easy to see someone you love die. My father sniffed and showed me his closed hand, I looked at it and he opened it to see what it had. The small object, that thing that kept my grandfather alive for so long. It wasn’t so away from him just hours ago. I sighed and closed his hand again, told him maybe it would be useful to donate the thing to some friend. A man so alive once, had depended on a machine and oh, so naïve I was to think it was only the sea that gave breath to his lungs and helped him feel free. But everything was okay now, it was time for him to rest. When someone is alive so much and has given his best it’s okay…it’s okay for them to just stay…and sleep and snore so deep. So deep as the ocean and the deep blue sea, dreaming to the beat of a pacemaker and to heaven to flee.

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Grandfather´s Cigarretes

My grandfather always had his cigarettes with him no matter the weather, economy, health, special days, weekends or any other. I can remember when I was younger there wasn´t a day I would visit him and he wasn´t in his rocking chair smoking his Raleigh cigarettes. One after another he used to smoke while greeting and waving his hand at every person that walked by. Since he had lived all his life there, they knew him very well and helped him in case he needed something (even with his cigarettes!). Through family events he was always there, chain-smoking one pack after another. Even though he didn´t like to stand up from his rocking chair, in case he had to, he carried with him 3-5 packs of Raleigh Cigarettes. I can´t tell if at least once in his life he tried other cigarettes brand because every time I visited him he had on his T-Shirt pocket 1 pack of Raleigh Cigarettes and in his jeans´ pocket he had another. I can still remember some times when people he knew gave him as a gift other cigarette brands for him to smoke but he threw them away. I can tell he was really engaged to the Raleigh brand and can´t imagine what he would have done now that Lucky Strike bought the Raleigh Brand. On regular days (when he had money), he would smoke up to 2 packs which means 40 cigarettes a day, on very good days (when people gave him money) he would smoke up to 3 packs a day but waste all the other cash on more packs for the next day or Tecate caguamas, but on bad days (when he had no money and nobody gave him) he would still smoke 1 or 2 packs he had on his closet! Now that I think about it I´m really impressed with his ability to hide from my grandmother when someone gave him money and he used it to buy more cigarettes and alcohol. Another thing I never thought about him is that this was a really bad habit and even though people knew it, they would still helped him get his cigarettes to smoke because they really appreciated him by who he was and that now that he was old he had nothing left to do but to sit on his rocking chair while drinking some Caguamas and smoking packs and packs of Cigarettes.

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Green Finger

The year my grandpa gave up gardening with tired hands and a heavy heart

I found my green finger

It started small

Just a hint of colouring on the last finger of my left hand.


But it grew,


As those flowers thrived

My love for gardening blossomed

And I learned the art of caring for something

Other than myself.


It took time, effort.

But to watch those flowers grow and then,

Yield to the bitterness of winter,

To sprout the following spring

Was a gift.


What I was gifted, by my grandpas blood,

Was learning to create, to mend, to discover and to care.

Gardening isn’t about growing the biggest and best.

It has always been more.

It has been about each individual flower blooming,

Bright and beautiful

It has been about the fight you undergo to keep each tiny seed alive.

It has been about knowledge and discovery.


There are adventures to be found in gardening.

My grandpa knew this.

The year he gave up gardening and yielded to old age

And a lack of space

I found he had taught me the most important of lessons

Given me the most wonderful of gifts.

The gift of the green finger,

Of caring,

Of giving Life.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

This ones for my Grandpa Hugh, who taught me how to love something other than myself, and to love nature, always nature. 

Grand Grandpa


I know I've never known you that well,
I know that you probably don't really know me,
But I do know that you are my grandpa,
That's something that will never change.

I know you never got me presents for my birthday or Christmas,
You never could do that for anyone,
The smoke swept your life away.

During the holidays when I saw you,
I'd make sure to smile when you saw me,
You always smiled back showing you really cared.

Not to long ago the doctor told us some news,
News that didn't shock us only scared us.
You had limited time left,
Limited smiles left...

Now here we are you old miracle,
Years later and you still smile,
Although Christmas this year we didn't get to see your smile,
And two days later your heart almost quit.

A heart attack the doctor guessed,
You weren't supposed to make it,
But the next day you woke up and I want to bet you smiled.

Though now times up for you,
I don't want you to go,
Your smile I will miss,
My only proof of miracles.

You were truthfully a Grand Grandpa,
A man with nothing left to lose but himself,
Even though we knew the time was coming,
It still took us by surprise,
We will miss you...

I hope your new home is nice,
That you will be treated well,
And I have one last favor to ask of you,
When you go please say hi to grandma and my sister for me,
Let your smile warm their hearts from now on,
Just like it did for me.

<33 RIP grandpa...

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I wrote this poem the day my grandpa died just a day or two ago... I don't know anymore. May his heart soul and smile all rest in peace. <333 RIP

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