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William Freemire


“Bill, I love what I’m hearing. You are doing good, I’m proud of you. But before our time runs out on this call, I need to share something.”

This is my 6:30 p.m. Thursday, once a week call with my dad, who refuses to call me William. I was named William after my grandfather, first grandchild on my dad’s side. It’s weird that when I was growing up I butted heads with my grandfather Bill the most. He wasn’t my favorite, that was my grandmother Jo-Ann, still on my dad’s side. 

I do not share this with anyone. My middle name is Albin, named after my mom’s dad. I wasn't a fan of this name because of grade school kids and Alvin & the Chipmunks. I was harassed and I’m just not an Al. Nothing against my grandfather Al.

My first grandparent to pass was my favorite, Grandma Jo. I was locked up in Arizona D.O.C. or maybe I was on the street. Anywayz I remember the pain of losing someone who loved me like no other human could (except Mom & Dad). I hurt so bad and missed the funeral. I never got to tell her what she meant to me. Time is precious, don’t squander a minute to love someone or share your love. 

My mom’s parents, Al & Audrey, were amazing to my sister & me. They helped raise us and gave us stability when my parents couldn’t. My grandpa Al would take us fishing and Grandma fed us cookies. My sister and I would get out of school and watch The Pink Panther sitting on our grandfather’s lap. I loved him, I lost him in prison. Sitting in prison I did the hardest thing I ever did, I said good-bye to my grandpa & grandmother as if I would never talk to them again. I was calling my mom and they happened to be visiting. This was rare. I talked to them. How do you say good-bye without letting them on to saying good-bye. How to imply that you’re old and you might die before I get to talk to you again. To not squander that chance to say I love you, thank you, and this is what you meant to me. To do this without crying as the air leaves you with the thought alone. To fear your voice could crack and let on to your secret good-bye, to move words around the lump in your throat.

But I did.

The things worth the most are the hardest to do. After that call, I never spoke to my grandpa again. When he died I cried so hard. A big no-no in prison. No place to hide and allow the sadness to wash over you. 500 pairs of eyes watching, judging, and looking for signs of weakness. No closure, no hiding, no good-byes. 

My dad finishes the call with my last grandparent dying. My Grandpa Bill, who ended up being the one I cried the hardest for. 

Painting by Gwynne Duncan 

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