Memories of my Grandpa

Gibson Girl By Gibson Girl, 23rd May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

As Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches, I find myself thinking back to my grandfather, and the last time we were together this side of eternity.

Grandpa

He was just over 5 ft tall, and definitely suffered from "short man syndrome". Just like a little dog that thinks he can take on a pitbull, my Grandpa didn't seem to be at all aware or concerned about his "shortcomings". He served in the Army, and by omission hated every minute of it. He raised 3 sons and 2 daughters with his second wife, my Grandma. He had been married previously before and had a son by that marriage as well, but he didn't reach out to him to try to have a father/son relationship until he was in his 80's, and by that time, I think the damage had already been done. The boy had grown into a man and a successful businessman, and had no desire to try to spawn a relationship that had for years and years been non-existent.

My father was his oldest with Grandma, and I was his first grandchild. I will not say that I ever felt he didn't love me, but I often was miffed by the fact that whenever he introduced us to friends and acquaintances, he could go right down the line with names and then come to me and be completely at a loss. "George, this is my son, Eddie, his wife Linda, my granddaughter Valerie, and my other granddaughter.... uhhhhhhhh......

Looking back I can laugh... they say you gotta laugh to keep from cryin'. But I swear, if I had a dollar for every time the above introduction had taken place, I'd be living on easy street now.

Grandpa was a collector. When my Aunt Mary turned 16, he had bought her a 2 tone grey and black 1969 Toronado. Now mind you, I was not yet of an age where I was able to look at a car and appreciate it for anything other than being a vehicle that could get you from point A to point B without walking, but I appreciated THAT car. I daydreamed on a regular basis that on the day I turned 16, my Grandpa would have one just like it sitting in my driveway with a big happy birthday bow on top. After all, in addition to Aunt Mary's car, there were 6 matching models scattered around on Grandpa's property... surely those were meant to be fixed up for us grandkids! Nope. They were basically just sitting there, rusting away in the Missouri sunshine, just in case my Aunt wrecked hers and was in need of parts to repair it!
Yes, we were nothing if we weren't self reliant.

Grandpa suffered from what was referred to as malignant high blood pressure. His doctor literally didn't know what was allowing him to still be walking around, living a pretty normal life, as lives go. He did suffer mini-strokes daily the last year he was with us, but they never affected his ability to walk, talk, or collect more vehicles.

Their house sat on 2.5 acres of land, which would have been a beautiful yard by all means, but as the years went on, and Grandpa attended auction after auction, the yard was slowly swallowed up by Volkswagons, Chevy's, Fords, and every other make and model you can think of. Believe me.... if it had 4 wheels, was driveable or not, and was available on the auction block, it would wind up retiring in Grandpa's yard. One of his neighbors called in a complaint to the town one day, claiming he was operating a junkyard on residential land. A land commissioner came out and counted cars... he was literally one car shy of qualifying as a junkyard!

The Final Months

It was July, 2001 when Grandpa's brother, my Great Uncle John, passed away of a heart attack. He had lived with my grandparents as long as I had been alive. In fact, I believe he had lived with them while my dad was still in High School. Grandpa took the loss of his brother extremely hard, he was non-consolable.

September 11th came, and Grandpa literally thought it was World War II, and that the Japanese were attacking the mainland. My aunt Mary was his mother, Grandma was just someone visiting, and me, well, I was the daughter of one of his best friends from
his post-Army days.

The week of Thanksgiving came, and at sometime around 3 in the morning on that Sunday, a neighbor was awakened to Grandpa knocking on his front door. "Clem, what's the matter?" the neighbor said. "I want to go home" came his response. "Well, let me get dressed and I'll walk you home... I'm sure Marion's worrying where you are."
"No," Grandpa said... "that's not my home... I want to go home." The neighbor ended up making up a bed for Grandpa on his couch, and then walked him back in the morning.

The Last Time I Saw Him

Two days after Thanksgiving, my husband and I were visiting with Grandma and Grandpa. I was sitting on a barstool at the counter that separated the dining room from the kitchen. Grandma was watching her "stories" on the little black and white in the kitchen... "As The World Turns" was always on... she never missed an episode.

Grandpa was standing in the walkway between the two rooms, staring at the kitchen, then looking at me, then back at the kitchen again. "This must be your house!", Grandpa said to me. "No, Grandpa, this is your home, I'm just visiting", I said. He scanned the room again, the smile slowly leaving his face. "No... this isn't my home", he said. "There aren't enough people in it." I knew he was referring to the fact that his children had always filled the rooms, with friends they'd invite over... it always bordered on chaotic. "This is your house, Grandpa... all those people just have their own houses now." Again he glanced around, looking somewhat disappointed. "It just don't look like my home" he said. "Well, Grandpa, I've got a confession to make... I had the kitchen remodeled for you. That's why it doesn't look the same." At this point, I was willing to tell him a little white lie if I thought it would set his mind at ease. Once again he looked around, taking in what I had told him. "Well," he said, "you sure did use some cheap material." Chuckling, I told him I got what I could afford.

We stayed for lunch, and when I was putting on my shoes to leave, I noticed that Grandpa was staring at me, not watching what I was doing, so much as he was trying to figure out who I was. "You don't know who I am, do you," I asked him softly. He gave me that defiant look he would always get whenever one of us grandkids would question something he told us. "Of course I know who you are!" he said. "I could NEVER forget you!" "Okay," I said... "what's my name?", I asked softly. Tears welled up in his eyes, as he looked at me and simply said, "I can't remember". "It's okay, Grandpa, I'm your granddaughter." I swear I think I cried the entire way home.

I am glad that I had spent the day with him, bittersweet as it was, for as fate would have it, he passed the next day. And although there's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him, or wish I could have one more memory with him, I know that he's gone on to a better place, and that now when he looks in on me, he knows my name.

Tags

Family, Memorials, Memories From Childhood, Memory Loss

Meet the author

author avatar Gibson Girl
I am a singer/songwriter based out of Nashville, TN. Most of my writing will focus on the craft of songwriting in today's commercial market.

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