by Steve Gaines

the morning my Grandfather died
he was painting picnic tables
making his way slowly down a long line of them
aluminum colored and pealing in the sun
badly wearing their too many years

he was bringing them back to a shining new life
and he was quietly dying on his way
one foot in front of the next
one breath on top of the last
slower and slower

he wasn’t painting them so much because they needed it
he was just putting off death
pushing it back a little on each brush stroke
tilting at another windmill impossibly
he was on his feet and doing something

when he could go no farther he stopped
when he could not rise once more he laid down
when he could not draw another breath he died

it was Summer
he was an old man
he had never given in…

not to the years
not to his insisting wife of half a century
not to his diminishing lungs
not to the many doctors who had cut him up bit by bit
not to the dreaded cancer
not to the old tables sadly decaying in front of him

in the end he had finished nothing…
he had simply continued…

casually adding his last brush stroke
his last step
his last breath…