There was always the faint smell of cigarettes, gasoline, and incense on his shirt. The scent hovered around him like a little cloud wherever he walked, trailing behind him like a puppy. You could tell he was nearby by his heavy, uneven footsteps. My mom told me it was because he injured his leg in a motorcycle accident a long time before I was born, but whenever I naively begged him to take me out on his motorcycle he would still try his hardest to conceal his limp to convince my grandma that he was okay and could take me for a ride.
I remember sitting out on the steps of the front porch with him, tirelessly going over my proud collection of shiny marbles and rocks. The rocks seemed to shrink every time they rolled from my hands into his and glisten even more from the contrast against his tanned skin. “That one is Sarah, that one is Anna, this one is Tammy, that one is Fred, and this one is Peter,” I would chime, pointing to each individual rock pausing so that he could slowly repeat with broken English, “Sah-la, Ah-nah, Ta-mi, Fu-le–.” Only to turn to me chuckling and ask me in Chinese to say it again.
Every morning I woke up to the warm, pungent scent of incense which could always be traced back to two sources: the altar decorated with a statue of Buddha, and Grandpa. Before breakfast, the scent of cigarettes would join that of incense and meld with his breath, puffing into the air with every chuckle, every pronounced syllable that left his mouth. I loved his deep, rumbling chuckle so different from my own high-pitched giggle, as well as the way his eyes crinkled when he laughed and how his stomach bounced up and down every time he laughed.
The memories ended as soon as my family moved to the United States and now all that’s left is the altar, the incense, and a little stone tablet with his name on it tucked away in a temple, among many other wooden tablets and incense burners.
*note: This time I just wrote my own story about some of my memories, in particular those from when I was of a really young age, of my grandpa from when my family occasionally spent time in Taiwan. The flow is a little bit broken to replicate how I recalled those memories. After the move to the U.S., I wasn’t able to go back to visit Taiwan for many years, during which time he passed away which is the stone tablet part (his grave). Anyways, I’m grateful for the memories of my grandpa from back then so I wanted to utilize this week’s free-for-all prompt to write about them. I hope you like it.