In JD Salinger’s: Franny and Zooey Zooey explains to his sister Franny how their brother Seymour asked him to shine his shoes for the fat lady before he went on air even if nobody ever got to see him or the shoes.
‘This terribly clear picture of the Fat Lady formed in my mind. I had her sitting on this porch all day, swatting flies, with her radio going full-blast from morning till night. I figured the heat was terrible, and she probably had cancer, and—I don’t know. Anyway, it seemed goddam clear why Seymour wanted me to shine my shoes’
When I think of you, dad, which is often, I see you up in heaven looking down on us and enjoying the everyday goings on, or maybe you’re in some happy reincarnation not remembering your past life at all. Whatever it is and wherever you are, I hope that you are as happy as you deserve. And even though you’re not here to see it I keep shining those shoes and try to make you proud. I’m writing every day now and have even had some of my articles published. I help out with my grandchildren (your great grandchildren), the girls are coming for the Christmas holidays, happy times all around. I’m looking after mum now. She misses you but I tell her that you’re not in a hurry for her to join you.
You’ve got another great grandchild, dad. He’s such a sweetie pie and they’ve given him your name. He’s never going to know you which makes me sad. But his dad talks about you to him and shows him family photos. As he’s only 14 months old, the best he can do in response is to haul out his entire vocabulary: dadda, nanna, and mamma. Unfortunately when he does that he points everywhere except at the named person.
One of your grandsons plays piano like an angel, all that practice has paid off and he is even composing his own music, your great granddaughter started high school this year and has recently turned into a teenager. I was waiting for her to go feral but she’s remained her lovely, good natured self. I’ll keep you posted in our daily chats.
Life has moved on dad and the grief has lessened. One day only the sweet memories will be left but I will never forget you. I love you dad.