The last time I was in Copenhagen, my grandad was dying. Since he couldn't make the trip from California to his beloved Danmark with an 'a', I bought a plane ticket and went for him. I wanted to smell Denmark, eat Denmark, drink Denmark. I wanted to visit his hometown of Esbjerg, and meet his cousin Maria. I wanted to visit his father's grave. I wanted to do all the things he would do if he could, and I wanted to report back to him all the feelings I felt, and show him hundreds of photos. He liked to look at photos.
When I called him from Maria's house and he heard our voices together for the first time, he cried. I told him about the herring and the hakkebøf, the rain and the sea. I told him I would see him soon.
He died on the day I arrived in California. I never got to show him the photographs I took.
And so I found myself in his Danmark again, with a terrible aching inside. There are so many things I wish I could tell him. He would have loved Pedro— he would have told him all the stories I loved to hear, even if it was for the hundredth time. I can see him clearly; turning in his armchair to spin his globe for Portugal, with an "I'll be damned" muttering out from a cloud of pipe smoke.
Jeg elsker dig, Morfar.