i want to curl up in your lap while you sing, "there's a knot on a log on a rock in hole in the bottom of the sea."
i want to walk through the door and hear you say "heyyyyyy pretty girl" in your real voice, the one you used to have before the strokes and cancer stole it away.
i want to see you sprawled out in your chair, a bowl of ice cream on your belly and sticky melted remnants spilled all over your chest.
i even want to see you lurch, look at me from under that hat with betrayed eyes and say, "i can't believe you took my keys," while you lean on the baseball bat just to stay upright.
i want to hear the clack of your spoons, watch your foot stomp while you drum them against your fingers, thighs, and cheeks, a silver magic that awes me as much now as it did when i was a child.
i want to hear you swear when some idiot cuts you off or one of the "guys" you always take pity on spends the money you "loaned" him on crack.
i want to bask in the glow that comes of walking with you into Pudge's, or any bar (you always know SOMEONE, even if you've never stepped foot there!) and listening to you say, "this is my granddaughter!" like there's nothing in the whole world you could be prouder of.
i want to wander into the kitchen and see you--half awake and mumble-grumbling--hunched in a rolly chair over the refrigerator pull-down shelf, eating a pimento cheese sandwich and sucking down a pepsi.
i want to sit in the middle of the backseat, driving through the prettiest country but watching you hold Grandma's hand and harmonize some sad old country song with her.
i want to see the flash of your rings, your FLE tattoo, the quick out-in motion of your false teeth that i always tried to copy and (duh!) could not.
i want to smell the clean t-shirt, cigarette smoke, bar grime, PAPA smell.
i want to feel my hand dwarfed in yours, your whiskery lips on my forehead.
i want to hear your million old-time stories, even the ones i've heard a thousand times before--especially the ones with you and Papa Jack, those are my favorite!
i want to watch the way you interact, dazzle people with the simplicity of you, hear the way they call "Brother Jim!" or "ol' Jimmy Smith!" like you are something larger than life, a legend.
i even want to hear your disappointment, the way you only you expressed it, not "how could you drop out?!" but "why did you not come to me?"
i want to be gathered around you, the three of us, your girls, listening to you lecture about boys and booze and all the things that you know would lead us astray.
i want to see the Look, the one Aunt Robin imitates so well, the one that could stop anyone in their tracks and make them hesitate.
i want to sleep comfy in your old IBEW t-shirts, but it is not the same now that your scent has faded from them.
i want to hear you bicker with grandma, exasperate her almost to her breaking point, and then give her a kiss that patches it all up, somehow.
i want to hear your long, rambling messages on her machine--"Bonnie? BONNIE? are you there? i guess you're not there. pick up the phone! BONNIE. where'd you pack my socks, i can't find any. DAMMIT i just spilled my damn WELL SHIT. ah, well, i'll call back later. loveyou bye."--the ones you left five times a day, at least.
most of all, oh God more than anything, i want to feel your arms wrapped around me, keeping me safe for just that moment, and hear you say, "i love you little girl."