Beautiful blue eyes

Looking for light in the darkness of saying goodbye


Photo courtesy of Alice Scott

Love at first sight: Grandpa and I meet each other for the first time at his home in Key Largo, Fla.

Alice Scott, online co-editor in chief

I’m not ready. Not for this.

I gaze into my grandfather’s beautiful blue eyes. Everywhere else is too painful to lookhis sagging skin, his colorless cheeks, his hollowed naked body covered only by a small pink blanket. None of it looks like him. 

Except his eyes. He still has his eyes. They’re my mom’s eyes. My eyes. 

I hold back tears.

“You’re an amazing grandpa, you know?” I try to be reassuring. To say something I think he wants to hear. 

But I don’t know what to say to him. What are you supposed to say to someone living his last days? To someone dying in his own home?

He just looks on. His gaze is dull. I’m not even sure if he hears me. 

He’s worse today. He hasn’t been out of bed. All he’s eaten is a third of an Ensure chocolate shake and a bowl of Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip ice cream. A shake and ice cream my mom hand-fed him.

I don’t know what to say to him. What are you supposed to say to someone living his last days? To someone dying in his own home?”

I break my gaze and look around the room. I see the artifacts of his life. Paintings of eagles, his tall Alaskan totem pole in the corner, his animal daughters—two Labrador retrievers, Grace and Shortie, sleeping peacefully at the foot of his bed. 

It all seems right. Except him.

My mom lies in bed beside him, and we both pet his soft white hair—the only place we can touch him without causing him pain.




I sit wrapped in a rainbow fish-covered beach towel.

Dark clouds take over the bright blue sky—a sky the sun was shining through only minutes ago. It’s monsoon season in Florida. I’m sure it will rain soon. 

Grandpa, sitting in his wheelchair, stares back at me.

“I don’t know if my mom told you this, but I got into my school’s musical,” I say. 

“It’s actually SpongeBob: the Musical,” I add, hoping for a laugh. Hoping he remembers our Christmas Eve tradition of watching the SpongeBob Christmas Special right before bed. 

Grandpa and I at the Blue Bell Ice Cream Festival in Brenham, Texas. (Photo courtesy of Alice Scott)

I’m trying to keep him busy while Mom and Reanie—Grandpa’s younger, but no less caring or dutiful wife—unpack the groceries.

But there’s only silence. 

So I blabber on about the part I got and how hard auditions were and how excited I am to finally be in a play again.

Nothing of substance.

“That’s great,” he says.

And I smile.

“I’m sorry, I’m not very responsive,” he adds after some time.

My smile fades.

I pick the conversation back up by mentioning the STAAR test prompt I had to answer last week: ‘Why is it important to believe in yourself?’

“How stupid is that?” I ask, although I know he won’t answer.

Reanie walks out of the sliding door to the backyard, wine glass in hand. My mom follows. She’s upset. I can tell. Her beautiful blue eyes, stained red, give her away.

Mom grips the handles of his wheelchair and whispers something to him as she and Reanie back him away.  When they have to go over the bump on the doorframe, he lets out a suffering cry. 




Grandpa lies in bed—the morphine pain pills have made him almost completely unresponsive. I never imagined he could be like this. I never thought anything could stop him. Until now. Until congestive heart failure.

Grandpa was always the life of the party, but now we’re lucky to get a “Hi” or “Hello.” Other than that it’s just moans of pain.

I never imagined he could be like this. I never thought anything could stop him. Until now. Until congestive heart failure.”

So it’s just us girls. Me, my mom and Reanie.

And when the rain comes each day and we can’t distract ourselves with backyard pool time, we move inside where our entertainment consists of movies. 

Dirty Dancing. Overboard. Mamma Mia

Movies with good dads. 

But today, the rain doesn’t come.

We trade movie plans for a game of Scattergories. 

Reanie rolls first. The letter is D.

The sand slips through the timer sitting on top of the wooden picnic table. And my mind is coming up with nothing.

I run through the list of categories to fill in.

Things you can do in five minutes or less.

One word comes to mind. Die.

Of course it’s on my mind. It’s on all of our minds. As the days overlap, Grandpa’s suffering more and more. 

Even if it might be a correct answer, I can’t write it down.

And a tear slowly slips out. 

Slips out of one of my beautiful blue eyes.


Grandpa’s last visit to Austin for my performance as Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. (Photo courtesy of Alice Scott)