The road weary Volkswagen bus has become cartoon-like with age. It leans to the right, almost as if it’s nursing a lame foot, while parked overlooking a favorite ocean view. Its tires are worn and textured from the hot summer asphalt and slurry beneath.
Grandpa fell in love with it in 1968. Now it owns the grandson - heart and soul.
The sand, the wind, and the salt spray from the Pacific, relentlessly blow upon the thin sheet metal top and body of sun-bleached white and yellow.
The faithful agéd van seems to tremble and shake with each new wafting gust, buffeted by the elements and the sea.
Underneath, behind, and around the fringes, gaping red-orange holes corrosively eat away like cancer at a cherished ancient friend.
The rust signals its intent to claim a beloved companion.
Grandpa’s trusted pocketknife with its deer horn handle, shiny chrome appointments and damascus steel blade, resists all attempts to be opened.
It stubbornly wrestles against chipped thumbnails and raw fingertips, fighting to remain closed.
When finally its elderly jaws yield and are pried apart, the air pops with the unmistakable smell of rust; a smell like the taste of a copper penny on the tongue.
Tiny deep orange flakes fly about, decorating hands and arms with corrupted metal freckles.
The blade rasps against its corroded hinges as it locks open. The formerly honed sharpness infected with a dreaded orange pox of death.
The knife is still a treasured heirloom. But only to those who know the man who owned it.
The rust claims a once useful and cherished keepsake.
Visibly showing long years of toil and trying, a weary mind and exhausted heart faintly tussle inside a geriatric frame as it folds itself into a well worn upholstered chair.
Eight decades of laborious living have rubbed the edges off both wit and agility.
Feeble age spotted hands - once deft and accomplished - now tremble as they hold a pen, or newspaper, or drinking cup.
Joints and thoughts creak along at a third of the speed that a younger, more spry version of the same man enjoyed.
Lifelong loves, departed friends, and cherished memories are now recalled with an effort tantamount to navigating a maze.
The determination to live remains. The hopeful loving support of family is present as well. But the withered musculature, fractured bones and confused gray matter will obey neither what is wished nor willed.
The bountiful years were beautiful, but they have run their course. What was born in the foundry of love and forged in the furnace of life now prepares to be melded into the ethereal world of treasures passed on.
As the rust of age prepares to claim a deeply adored grandfather soul.