Grandpa’s Last Ride by Jayne Martin

The night my Grandpa Horace died, he came to me in a dream.

“Horace,” he said, because I’m his namesake, “Horace, don’t you go letting them make some big fuss over me. Being dead ain’t the worst thing could happen to a person.”

But, of course, services are for the living and there wasn’t much I could do to change anyone’s mind, being I was only ten at the time. Besides, my grandpa was always saying stuff like that. “Don’t want anyone getting me any presents,” he’d say at Christmas and then he was the first one ripping away the gift wrap on Christmas morning. “Don’t want no fuss over my birthday this year,” fully knowing a “surprise” party was in the works, just like every other year, and grinning like a five-year-old when he blew out his candles. Truth was, nobody liked a good party like my Grandpa Horace and if he could be the center of attention, all the better.

So there we were, the whole Peziak clan, gathered in the back yard of Cousin Jim’s house on the shore of Lake Erie. Right across the lake was Cedar Point amusement park where Grandpa would take me to ride the rollercoaster. After about three times I’d throw up, but Grandpa, he could ride that thing all day long.

We’d done our crying and our burying, but none of us was ready to let him go. The lanterns were Aunt Kate’s idea. She gave us each a pen and we wrote our good-byes on the thin white paper. Then we lit the tiny candles and sent the lanterns aloft over the soft waves lapping against the shore. There was just a sliver of a moon that night, like a big old smile in the sky.

See you in my dreams, Grandpa, I’d written.

Most everyone’s went straight up, hung there for a while until the flame went out and then floated to the ground. But mine took off straight out across the lake, no breeze anywhere to account for it.

“Look!” my little sister called out. “Grandpa’s going to ride the rollercoaster!”

Right then – and this is the God’s honest truth – I felt two large hands rest on my shoulders. I didn’t have to look. I knew whose they were.


Jayne Martin lives in California, where she rides horses and drinks fine wines, though not at the same time. A Pushcart, Best Small Fictions and Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award, her debut collection of flash fiction, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press, is available now.