Today is a special day. If he had lived my grandfather, and my son’s namesake, would have been 85. He’ll have been gone 15 years this September. He was an interesting and funny man, and I loved him with all of my heart. Some days I miss him so much it hurts. I look at my son and think about how much he would’ve loved him. I’m almost certain the angel kisses on my son’s eye came from him. Some days I’m so angry with him for leaving that it blurs my vision, but most days I’m okay.
You’re probably wondering why so many emotions for one person. You see my grandfather was my person. He was the person that I would have done anything for, and who would have done anything for me. He was that person who believed in me no matter what. The person who encouraged me to shoot for the moon. He loved me unconditionally and I him.
When I was around 9 or 10 I think he bought me a horse, he was drunk and at the auction house (his favorite weekend pastime). He got drunk the next weekend and sold it. He could, and would stay sober for months at a time, and then go on a bender. I once asked him when he started drinking and he said it was when he joined the Army. He wasn’t a career man, he just served his four years, or was it two, and that was that. He was a cook. According to my mom, and later confirmed by my grandmother, that “profession” led to the most interesting dinner they’d ever had. You see, my grandmother had gotten sick. She was so sick she couldn’t get out of bed. And for whatever reason, no one is quite certain, my mother couldn’t help with dinner. She was a kid after all. So my grandfather decided to cook, and his specialty was spaghetti. When he called everyone to dinner my mom said it looked like a bomb went off in the kitchen. There was food EVERYWHERE! And not only that but bless his heart, he had cooked enough to feed a platoon. That was the last time he was asked to cook, lol.
I have many wonderful memories of him, I would be hard pressed to say I had a favorite but here are two. The first is of giving him his neck massages. I’m very good at neck and back massages because of him by the way. He had this old BB in his neck that I could feel through his thin skin. It was weird to rub my thumb over it and feel it slide around. He got the pellet when his brother came home one day and kind of haphazardly sat, tossed, the BB gun in the corner and it fell. When it fell it discharged spraying everything with buckshot, and my grandfather happened to be standing in the way. Back then they didn’t see a reason to remove the pellet as it wasn’t hurting him.
My second is of his right index finger. Weird memory I know, but what for it. He had a faded blue tattoo of a “U” on his finger, although there are some who would say it was actually a horseshoe. Whenever I would ask him about the tattoo and why he had it he’d always point his finger at me, tattoo where I could read it, and say “For silly people like you who ask questions.” Then he’d wink at me and laugh. He loved to laugh.
I learned some valuable lessons from him about life, and here they are:
Laugh. Laugh often and laugh long. Laughter is good for the soul. It eases stress and relieves tension. No one can be angry when they’re laughing.
Live. Don’t plan your life, live it. Do whatever you want to do, because if you don’t you’ll have regrets down the road. Go bungee jumping, visit Machu Picchu, visit Iceland, whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do…do it.
Do what you love, and the money will come. If you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life. You may not be house in the Hamptons rich, but if you’re doing what you love you’ll find that you will get by. If you’re just working for the money you’re living a sad life.
Don’t apologize. My grandfather was an alcoholic, and dare I say a bad one. And crazy though life was, all the sleepless worried nights; all the late night calls to come pick him up from God knows where one thing never happened. He never apologized. He was who he was. He didn’t need, or want, anyone’s validation. We should all be that way. Never apologize for being beautifully and wonderfully made. Unique is a wonderful thing to be.
My grandfather was, for the most part, a happy man. Happy with his life. There were very few times I saw him truly sad. He was always in bed by the 10 o’clock news, frequently got up in the middle of the night for sweets (he was a diabetic because of the alcoholism and knew better, but he did it anyway), loved Cinnamon Certs, listened to George Jones and Johnny Cash, and used more hairspray than most women. I guess you could say he was my first love. I was his girl, the first daughter of the first daughter.
He decided almost 15 years ago that 70 years was a good life, and after briefly leaving my grandmother for one last hoorah (for lack of a better term) he came home to die. I went to see him on a Saturday, it was to be our last together. He was in the bed, and he wasn’t eating, all he wanted was to drink his Ensure. I laid there beside him with my head on his shoulder and watched tv with him for a good portion of the day. He gave me his little tidbits for a wonderful life and told me he loved me a few times. Before leaving I cried, hugging him I begged him not to leave me. I told him I couldn’t handle a world without him in it. He kissed me, then hugging me tightly did something he had never done to me before…he lied to me. He said he wouldn’t leave me. He died the following Wednesday. I was devastated. Heartbroken, I cried for a week. And then I was angry. I was angry that he lied to me.
Looking back now, I see that he didn’t lie but he didn’t exactly tell me the truth. Physically he did leave me, but he is always with me. He can never leave me. He is in my heart, and in my soul. He’s in every George Jones song I hear. He’s with me when I look at my son and see his mini-me. My heart warms when I see John Deere green, because I know he’s somewhere looking down on my saying “That’s my girl! She’s my person.”
I love you D.A.V., now and forever, to the moon and back, infinity and beyond. xoxo