In a day like the one that's starting now, some years ago, my grandfather died. I remember I was waken up at six in the morning, and the bad news were told to me straight ahead: "wake up, you must go, your grandfather has died". My mother left the room with the same rush she had woken me up; I sat up in bed and stayed quiet for some minutes. He was gone.
It's difficult for me to recover the memories I have of him, but I remember very well a few things we did together. One summer evening, he taught me oil painting. He was not very good at painting, but he knew how to paint three or four things very well. He used to paint witches and war boats quite skillfully.
And of course, there was hunting. We used to go hunting partridges (from the latin word perdix, perdiz in Spanish...) all the family together. My dad would go on his own, I used to go with my grandfather. One of those hunting days, as we were walking together, a partridge suddenly appeared quietly walking to our left. I saw it first, and told my grandpa: "see it, there, shoot it!" But he was too slow, and when he had pointed at the bird, it was too late.
We looked at each other. He was finished. He, the great hunter, walking along with a sick little boy too weak to walk with his father. It was like the bird already knew we were both too weak to kill it: that's why it walked by us, quietly enjoying the danger under the sun of a hunting Sunday morning. I don't remember what my grandpa told me, but I haven't forgotten his face looking at me. And how he looked for a rock, and sat down, and cut two branches of sage and offered me one, and we both looked at the fields while we chewed out the juice of the plant.
I suppose my grandfather chewed a lot of sage during the war. He was just 16 when one morning, he was waken up suddenly at six in the morning: "wake up, you must go". He sat on bed and stayed quiet for some minutes: his young flesh couldn't imagine he would end up 60 years later sitting on a rock next to a stupid kid who saw the partridge fly away untouched before him.
When the war ended, my grandfather was near Valencia. He went into a cafe, and ordered a coffee with milk. And he started to cry.