We took my grandfather to to the edge of Key West the year before his death. An old man, walking with our help and quietly living with the pain brought about by old age and old memories.
We stood there, at the Southernmost point in the US and looked south, three generations with three different sets of memories. I looked at the old man, squinting as if trying to see across the miles, maybe seeing things I couldn’t.
“Abuelo, it’s only 90 miles away, if there was a bridge we could drive there in two hours!” – said I, seventeen years old at the time.
My father looked down and walked to the car, out of my sight, but the old man didn’t move.
“You can’t build that bridge Luisito, man can’t build that kind of bridge.”
“Of course it can be built abuelo, look at the one we crossed to get here!” – I said and smiled the smile of youth, a smile not jaded by lost innocence and betrayed promises.
“You do that Luisito, build your bridge, I know that you will do just that.” – he turned and walked back to my father and our car.
My grandfather died a year later, the bridge all but a forgotten fantasy of my younger days. Except maybe not; maybe I am building our bridge, my grandfather’s and mine, a bridge between a people’s, spanning time and memories, for the old man who couldn’t see but could remember, who placed his trust in my hands.
I love you old man, I’m building our bridge.