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Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car." (Will Shriner)

My grandfathers were the first people to come to mind on All Soul's Day. It seems like they were radically different people. I guess they had one thing in common: They both had really white hair. I hope when my hair changes colors it's the same pure shade of white.


Most of my memories of my maternal grandfather are from when he was in the VA Hospital towards the end of his days. He passed away when I was six, and when he was alive he lived five or six hours away, so I didn’t get to see him often. But all the memories I do have, I cherish. There are pictures of me sitting in his lap while he read me the newspaper, sitting in his lap on the porch, swinging in his tree swing, or curled up asleep in his big green chair. I don’t remember any of these moments, but I remember feeling loved. I associate him with circus peanuts. I don’t have any specific recollection of him ever giving me a circus peanut, but I know that he must have with every visit because to this day whenever I see a bag of circus peanuts photographic images of him float through the back of my mind. I also think of him every time I am offered a thumbprint cookie. I remember being five years old and helping my mother bake thumbprint cookies before a trip to the VA Hospital. She mixed the dough and rolled out the cookies. I supplied the thumbprint, and she filled the hole with jelly then baked them. I remember carrying a giant plastic container full of yellow apricot and grape purple cookies into the lobby and offering all the nurses and attendants cookies. I loved the attention and compliments. Papa couldn’t actually eat the cookies because of the breathing tubes. These were the old days, when children weren’t allowed up in the rooms. I don’t know why we were banned from the rooms – maybe they thought we’d be traumatized, maybe they thought it wasn’t healthy for the patients, who knows. My parents had to take turns watching me hand out cookies in the lobby while they each took a turn up in the room with Papa. When there were no more cookies I got taken outside to the grounds, held up underneath a familiar third story window, and told to wave. I waved more emphatically once I spotted the hands waving back down at me through the curtains. Other visits I recall running around the grounds playing tag with my cousins, also too young to be allowed in the room for a visit. My mother lost Papa in 1976, but I lost him years before thanks to those hospital regulations.


I could write a book about my paternal grandfather. Actually, somebody ought to write a book about him; he was a real character. I loved him dearly because he could always make me laugh. Whether it was from stealing my dinner rolls then blaming it on my grandmother (surefire amusement for a six year old) or offering to spray down my boyfriend’s bushy beard with chigger spray for my protection (well, it amused me), he was always up to something. My favorite story involves one of his favorite pastimes – sitting at the counter at the Donut King in Odgensburg eavesdropping on conversations then butting in with unwanted advice. If anyone railed at him he would raise his eyebrows with a confused and hurt expression and apologetically protest, “Hey, I’m just a concerned citizen!” Someone actually bought him a baseball cap that said “Concerned Citizen” so that he could just point. Maybe that’s apocryphal, but I could totally picture him doing it.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
sarahtoalaska
Nov. 3rd, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
My moms dad died when she was around 16 so while I have some mementos of him I obviously have no memories of him. However grandma remarried when mom was around 20 so that is the man I know as my grandpa. Though by then he was a divorced man who had his own children and later grandchildren.

I honestly don't know how my grandpa actually felt about us, technically his stepgrandchildren, but I loved him with my whole heart. He was a very quite and gentle man and if you picture a stereotypical older american Indian gentleman.. you know what he looked like. He was always kind and loving and I hope grandma is right and he did love us. My two strongest memories are cleaning and polishing a wooden horse (and several other things) that he had carved and his funeral. One of my sisters and I were bawling and clinking to each other sitting next to grandma. I remember that his family stood in the back and didn't squeeze out a tear. I remember grandma hugging us (she's NOT a loving person) and whispering to us how much grandpa loved us.

My mom had to steal that horse so I could have something of grandpa. His family was trying to take it all. Even though in all the time we'd lived nearby I only saw them twice.

My dad's dad is actually still alive, but sadly I've had very little contact with him because of what happened with my dad. I remember running up to him and jumping into his lap. Again he was a very quiet man. I write them and we have contact, but grandma is the writer in the family. One of my favorite memories is of them coming to Fl or my 30th birthday while Kenton was in Ak. At one point it was just grandpa and I in the backyard.
My dad's family loves and accepts me for who I am, it doesn't matter to them that I am odd or have piercings and tattoos. (much different then moms family, who wants to convert me) So grandpa, a man who rarely spoke stood next to me and showed me the tattoo he'd gotten while in the Navy. It was his way of connecting with me. I love them with all my heart and wish things had worked out differently.

I just thought I'd share with you sense you'd shared with us.
madladyred
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you shared. Sharing like this is my favorite part of Livejournal and one of the things I feel Facebook misses out on.

I'm glad you got your grandfather's horse.
And the tattoo sharing moment between you and your other grandfather brought tears (of happiness/sentimentalism) to my eyes :)
sarahtoalaska
Nov. 4th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
facebook is very instant gratification... I miss just about everyone but you over here.

I'm glad I got the horse too. Even though his leg and tail were broken off and badly re-glued. It doesn't matter, grandpa made it.

That moment with my granddad and his tattoo will always be one of my favorite memories. Something so small but it shows how much the man loves me, despite how different we are.
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