I wasn’t there when Pop passed away. But he found a way to say goodbye…
My co-worker Amanda bounced over to my desk at four o’clock in the afternoon. “Ruth, you need to listen to this song, right now.” She instructed me to search for a band I’d never heard of before on my computer. I had to smile at Amanda’s attempt to cheer me up. I really needed that right now.
My grandfather, Pop, had just suffered a stroke and was in the ICU. Pop and I always had a unique bond, one centered on music. I loved to sing and he was one of my biggest fans. When I was younger, I made him a CD of my music. He listened to the songs over and over again. I wanted so badly to visit him at the hospital. But I wouldn’t get a chance to see him until tomorrow because of my work schedule.
A list of songs popped up on my computer screen.
“Play that one!” Amanda said. Music blared.
So as to dance the day up high, way up high above the blue balloon. Blue, blue balloon, my soul calls to you…
“Amanda, what in the world is this song?” I said, laughing.
“I used to listen to it when I was younger. Isn’t it a riot?” She sang along, got me to join in too. “Blue balloon, blue, blue balloon, my soul calls to you…”
The lyrics of the song stuck in my head all evening. The next morning, I awoke to my cell phone buzzing. It was Mom. Oh, no. There was only one reason she’d call so early.
“Ruth, dear, I’m so sorry,” she said. “Pop passed away late last night...”
The room spun around me. Pop…gone? I should have been there. I hadn’t gotten a chance to see him, to say goodbye. If only I had called out of work yesterday. If only we’d had one last moment together.
”Pop just didn’t seem like himself yesterday,” Mom continued on the phone. “He was fidgety, reaching out and mumbling to himself. It was so strange.”
“What was he saying?”
“Two words he kept repeating,” she said. “‘Blue balloon. Blue balloon.’”