My Grandfather, sans Smartphone

My grandfather sits in his kitchen, in the house he’s always lived in, in the chair he’s always sat in. The television is on, baseball perhaps, maybe the major leagues, maybe the first game of the season, maybe the last. He doesn’t speak, he glances at his wife, a few tired neurons fire, maybe he remembers her name today. He wears a bib, he moves the spoon slowly to his mouth, he will need help in the bathroom later with his pants. No children will visit him to sing their songs. Only tape recordings of the massive church choirs that he used to direct. They sound like angels, he insisted on it, he remembers how they sang for him, for the congregation, for God.

I write about him here, thousands of miles away, in a posh cafe run by a lovely young couple. Art hangs on the walls, and trinkets of a bygone era — glass jars, old shells, moldering butterflies. My smartphone beeps, informing me that the president of Chile is now estimating 708 dead so far from yesterday’s earthquake. We have become so expert at collecting; will we remember to remember?

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