Here’s a wonderful vignette from Fredrik Backman’s, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him—even as they must find a way to let go.
The man and his grandson Noah sit on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.
As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics.
“He always wants to know everything about school, but not like other adults, who only want to know if Noah is behaving. Grandpa wants to know if the school is behaving. It hardly ever is.
Our teacher made us write a story about what we want to be when we’re big, Noah tells him.
What did you write?
I wrote that I wanted to concentrate on being little first.
That’s a very good answer.
Isn’t it? I would rather be old than a grown-up. All grown-ups are angry, its just children and old people who laugh.
Did you write that?
What did your teacher say? She said I hadn’t understood the task.
And what did you say?
I said, she hadn’t understood my answer.
I love you, Grandpa manages to say with closed eyes.”