My Grandmother's Best Friend

If you have noticed, I do not write at the end of months, and sometimes too at their beginnings. I like to break routine. It is very easy to take things for granted in robotic rituals. Well, happy November! ^_^  Time, seemingly a wallpaper is yet again the center of our attention. 2015 has almost expired. Of course, I panicked, not a lot, and started going over my resolution list. I did not accomplish some of the things I wanted to, but I did accomplish my biggest resolution of the year and that means PARTY! And party means a nice bowl of yogurt with all my favorite fruits and my own homemade coconut-honey granola...and if I can afford it, I will see an off-broadway play or something.  I am delaying the partying until my looking forward to it is no longer enjoyable. Ah, but you must wonder about my Nana's best friend. It is, after all, the title of this post.
Paafio is dead. Paafio, was what he responded to. The name translates to little father, but means uncle––one's father or mother's younger brother. Amongst Nana's friends Paafio was my favorite. He had this voice that always sounded uncertain and he looked at you sideways with his huge eyes. He was a very skinny athletic looking man, who stooped a little and made me imagine his being about to collapse on me as a child. Throughout the years I have marveled at how everyone seemed to age, but never Paafio. His real name was Doetse. Doetse is a name given to a boy born after twins. He had no children, nor did he ever marry. He was quite and not very social; an introvert. He was one of the kindest men I knew. In recent years my mother and I would complain about how much Nana took advantage of him, as he was always so eager to please her. I think he loved her very much. He was a few years younger than her, I do not know exactly how many years younger. But he always called Nana, Sister. And there was a beautiful emphasis on how he said it. Sister. I can hear it now in his soft voice and the accompanied look in his gentle eyes.

As I watched my dearest Nana get older, I begun to wonder what would happen to Paafio when she leaves us. Surely he will miss her the most. The two of them being so inseparable: always going on talking about everything; gossiping about everything; teasing each other; laughing at things only they knew. His name always on Nana's lips. Paafio this, Doetse that! He looked stronger next to Nana whom the years have doubled over. But he walked a little slower than he used to, and age had colored all of his short cropped hair gray. He seemed very solid. He still wore his sheepish grin like life was a laugh. I would have bet my last penny on his remaining here with us for a longer while. It was Nana I worried about. Hearing her complaints about body pains. Being sorry that she could no longer eat her favorite foods. All of Nana's favorite dishes being my favorites as well, I can imagine her pain. Old age has not been very kind to Nana, yet we laugh about it; I call her young lady and it never ceases to crack her up. But there was always Paafio, also a little old. I thought of him as her playmate. One never goes between them, even when they argue. They had a way of taking each other's side against everyone else.

He had a stroke on a regular afternoon: he was dizzy and went home to rest, and they found him in bed in that state and rushed him to the hospital. And he was reduced to his endearing sheepish grin. His people took him to their village to give him traditional medicine. Mother got to see him in his last days because she visited Ghana recently. Then news came almost two weeks ago that Paafio has died. How does one appear so healthy one minute and lose his health in the next? How strange this life is. How uncertain all is. How deceptive all feels. It is strange that Paafio is no more. It is weird to think that if I search the entire planet I will find people who remind me of him or who even look a little like him; maybe someone with his eyes; another with a voice almost like his soft one; or someone with his particular interesting head shape and big ears; or maybe his lanky build; but never my dear Paafio. Like the days that have slipped us by; like the sweet and sour moments once our present, Doetse is memory now. Only physical in my imagination.

I write this in celebration of a life that touched mine. I have a bad habit of forgetting. I want to remember my gentle old man. A beauty that once breathed in this sphere. A body that was once an infant, a little boy, a teenager, a young man, an adult, an old gentleman. A spirit that always brought to my mind gentility and kindness; the pleasure of service and the pleasure of genuine friendship. He was, in a sense, more father to me than my very own. He was in a way the only grandfather I have ever had. And by living the way he did, he taught me something about a lifestyle that I have come to admire. Goodbye dearest, Paafio. The fearful beatings of my living heart reaches out to your rotting one. But my soul knows yours as free. You have blessed my own existence in ways I cannot form into words and I very much hope it is beautiful where you are. That it is peaceful and finally enough.
Jane Odartey


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