Tomorrow is the 80th birthday of Lolo Melchor, Gemma’s grandfather. The whole family planned to have a big party for him. They ordered 6 gallons of ice cream, a two-layered cake, and other desserts which will be delivered the next day. The venue was set and decorated with colorful balloons and a banner that wrote: Happy Birthday Lolo Melchor.
It’s going to be a big celebration.
Yesterday, they bought a nice green polo shirt for Lolo Melchor. His favorite color is green. The family wanted to buy him a new pair of pants and shoes as well, but he insisted on wearing his old khaki-colored pants and his worn-out pair of brown penny loafers. At his age, Lolo Melchor is still stubborn.
Gemma gave him an early present too, a new perfume with a classic scent that he always liked. His perfume bottle had been emptied for a long time and was hiding under the dust inside his old drawer.
“You shouldn’t have bought this. I stay home every day, so I won’t use it that much. And this is expensive, Gemma.” He whined and scratched his head like a child.
“But Lolo, you can use this on special occasions… especially on your birthday tomorrow. Other relatives will attend your party so you need to smell good. Promise me you will use it on your birthday.” She handed him the gift and kissed his forehead. “Advance happy birthday… And I love you.”
She then left him on his old rocking chair. When he heard the door closed, he slowly opened the round cover of the perfume, smelled it, and with a smile on his face, he gently moved the chair back and forth.
Gemma woke up early the following day and baked her sugar-free chiffon cake. It’s her Lolo’s favorite. She always brings him a piece of the cake when she visits him on Sundays. Just a piece because he is diabetic. She knows that he can’t eat most of the sweets in the party, so she prepared something that he would like.
The phone suddenly rang at 9 in the morning with the kind of sound that won’t stop unless you answer it. Her mom picked it up, and her once buoyant voice became shaky. She started sobbing as she reached out to the box of tissue on the small table.
Lolo Melchor is dead. He died this morning on his rocking chair.
The whole family rushed to his house. Gemma was still on denial. She won’t believe it, she said, not until she sees him.
She opened the gate to the house and stopped. A pounding feeling gripped her heart as she looked at the old man’s house. Is it really true? She asked herself.
No, she can’t go in his room. She felt so heavy inside that it made her walk a little sluggish. As she reached her grandfather’s room, she smelled the antiquated books on the shelf. She remembered how he would read those books to her when she was small.
She ran to his side. Tears fell from her eyes. He looked like he was just sleeping soundly. He was wearing his new green shirt. They told her that Lolo Melchor woke up early and got ready for his party. He then sat on his rocking chair and told his eldest daughter that he would just take a short nap while he waits for his visitors. He didn’t wake up after that.
Gemma kissed Lolo Melchor’s cold forehead and smelled the perfume on his shirt. She burst into tears. He kept his promise. He wore the perfume on his birthday. She smelled his shirt again and caressed his hair. This is the scent that will linger on her memory for the rest of her life.