7.15.2009

Wednesday Assignment


On Wednesday!


This is a good one - I only knew one grandpa.

Grandpa Pleasant... yes Pleasant was his name. Pleasant, or Ped, was a war veteran, a red-headed Irishman, recovered alcoholic, retired GM employee, widow, stubborn, grumpy, and when I was young - he was my very VERY best friend.

He called me his #1. I was his very first grandchild, and he found it fitting. I even remember him giving me a key chain that was brass was a huge number sign and the number one. It had his house key on it. He told me that it was so I could come over, anytime. Grandpa never locked his door, but I felt very proud and lucky to have the key to his house. When I would get mad I my parents, or have a bad day at school - I would hold the key. Knowing that I could go there, usually made me feel better.

One day, in kindergarten, I had a really bad day. I was in trouble - unjustly of course - and I had to spend my recess standing on the wall. A boy in my class who was one of those who loved to pick on everyone, was making faces at me and dancing in front of me with his tongue out. So I kicked him. I got in more trouble, and now had to face the wall with my nose against the bricks. That was it! I was leaving!

So, I waited for the teacher to walk away, and I left. I walked to 4 blocks to grandpas house. He was sitting in his lawn chair with his neighbor when I walked up. He asked how I was, I told him I had a bad day at school. I hated it and was never going back. I pulled up my lawn chair - a mini version of his and took a seat. Him and his friend went back to talking like there was nothing wrong with the situation. He took me to get lunch - a Happy Meal to make me happy. I felt as if all was right in the world. The school, and my mom found it to be wrong.

I spent a great deal of time at Grandma and Grandpa's house growing up. My parents lived about 4 miles from their house and it was the place we congregated for holidays and Sunday lunches. We had two play rooms, old toys and all the love we could hold.

My younger brother would NEVER spend the night there. He was little, and living on a busy street, the noises and lights were scary to him. I stayed almost every weekend. I would watch my Grandma make fudge. It always took her at least one "practice" batch to get it to set up firm. I would get to eat the gooey, syrupy first run in the living room watching TV with Grandpa. I had no bed time, and I could watch what ever program I wanted. I usually watched what grandpa liked - because I liked it too.

Then Grandma died. I was 5. I remember that day so clearly, and the days that followed. There are not many memories that you can play like a movie, with such distinct clarity in your head. Those days might as well be on a DVD. My grandpa was devastated. I remember at the funeral, he was sitting in a chair against the wall. His flat-top hair cut was very fresh, and his pants had perfect creases. I went over to him and he looked at me with eyes full of tears, picked me up, held me close and cried so very quietly. I remember hugging him back and sitting there for a long time just like that. I stayed on his lap the entire funeral. People came and talked to him, hugged him, but he never put me down.

After that, I spent even more time with Grandpa. He would pick me up from school - sometimes halfway through the day. We would go for drives, walks and I could eat what ever I wanted. There were days where I got to "drive". He would start out driving, and then I would tell him to take the next right or take the next left. We would end up in some neat places, stop for food or to look around and then head home.

We always ate hard boiled eggs and sardines (eww I know) while working on our puzzles. I worked the world seek and he worked the cross word puzzle of the daily paper. To this day, I can not look at a hard boiled egg without remembering him. Grandpa would give me the eggs to peel. I would carefully and slowly peel the shells off. Then find a cartoon I liked in the funnies and I would roll the egg across the newsprint. I would give the best one to grandpa. Before he ate the egg, he would talk about how nice the picture was, and how maybe he shouldn't eat it. Instead, he could keep it on his table to look at. We always decided to eat the eggs - but he made me feel like he didn't want to.

Grandpa started to get sick when I was 10. My parents moved in with him to help take care of him. He slowly shrank in size and slowly slipped away. There were times when I would go sit with him and he would not know who I was. I started to avoid his room because when he was like that it scared me. Occasionally, I would walk by his room, and he would call me in. He would ask me where I had been and tell me he missed me. We would work on puzzles again and sit and talk for hours. I loved those days. The next day - he would be gone away again. Memories and his personality locked up tight inside his head. Grandpa died when I was 12.

I am a lot like him. My stubbornness, my temper, my eyes and my hair. He taught me that the little things matter more than the big and that any day can be a special day - all you have to do is decide it so. I miss him greatly.

4 comments:

Mama Kat said...

This is so sweet!! You have incredible memories of your grandpa...many people are not so lucky. I bet you miss him everyday. :( He sounds like he was really something special.

June Freaking Cleaver said...

Ahhh, you made me cry. I'm glad you had 12 great years with your grandpa.

Jenners said...

This was beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes. You were a very lucky girl to have such a special relationship with your grandpa and such vivid memories. Thank you for sharing!

Summer said...

This really makes me miss mine...grandpas have such a special influence...