He sat in his chair day in and day out, he had his wife trained to bring him his meals in that chair without fail. His wife would set up the coffee pot every night so that he could just press a button in the morning, go out to get the paper and come back in, sit down in his chair with a hot cup of Joe and read the sports section.
Sometimes when he felt his chair was too binding, he’d call to his wife, “Eileen! I’m going to get the paper!”
We’d hear a car start, he’d come back hours later and sit back down in his chair with a satisfied, shit eating grin that said, “Yes, Eileen . . . I’ve been to Famous Amos, I did not bring you anything! And I’ve already finished the paper!”
Maybe I didn’t know this man in his prime, when he was selling steel or chowing down dozens upon dozens of bananas so he’d meet the weight requirement to fight in World War Two, but I can still tell you a great many things about my grandpa!
The other day would have been his 88th birthday. I feel I at least owe him *this*!
The man was amazing! When I was small, my grandpa ruled the world! The day never started until he woke up and flipped on that coffeepot! Didn’t end until he turned off the tv and retired to a room with drawn shades and ugly carpeting, a picture tucked into his dresser mirror: a Polaroid of his elderly mother dressed in Red, White and Blue, waving the American Flag!
My grandpa controlled the universe. He knew everything. Only he could give me permission to walk outside barefoot, he always got to hold the remote.
I will never forget the day he died, but I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to tell you about the man who made my life possible.
I didn’t have a dad growing up . . . I had my grandpa. He fed me, he housed me and it wasn’t until later on I understood that HE DIDN’T HAVE TO. He took all my crap, all my adolescent bullshit even though he didn’t *have* to! I wasn’t his responsibility, but my whole childhood, there was enough food on the table, I never wanted for anything and make no mistake, there were always [ALWAYS!] enough books to read.
My grandpa was (and is) the greatest reader I ever knew. He (and I have always envied this gift) could read a book and watch a tv show at the same time and still tell you everything . . . hell, you coulD stand there and have a full on conversation with him, he would never look up from his book, but he would never miss a beat!
Also he was the first person to notice I could write. Back in SECOND grade, other girls had their fathers yelling at them, grounding them . . . and I had my grandpa. Buying me art supplies and telling me to write. At the time, it was just like, “Ohhhh, stupid Grandpa!” But he is long dead and buried.
And I’m still writing.
Seven years old and my grandpa called it. Just like that. He fed me, he raised me, all when he didn’t have to. He moved the whole family to Florida so he could golf . . . Then didn’t golf for eight years. He ran the whole world from his chair, paid bills, stamped them and sent ME out to mail them. You could stand there, screaming at him and he wouldn’t hear you. But oh lord! Would he hear the air conditioner flip on in the middle of the night!
That was my grandpa . . .
And I hope your grandpa was half as great.