Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reveille, Brut cologne and overalls...

Today I miss the person who was the most important man in my life to date, my grandfather. Not that I don't miss him everyday, but for some reason I have really been thinking about him lately.

I basically grew up with 3 parents: my mom, my grandpa and my grandma. Mom and I lived next door to my grandparents. In the years before I started school and after my grandpa retired from Firestone, I was with him all day while my mom was at work. After I was in school, I spent the summers with him. We'd do yard work, he'd putz around his little workshop in the basement, tinkering with crafty and technical projects, and we ran around and did errands.

When I was in 8th grade something happened to him (still not 100% clear on what or why, but it involved electrolytes that were low and some very bad decisions by a doctor) and grandma had to call the squad to come and get him. When we got the ER, I remember them telling us they had to resuscitate and intebate him and mom and gma getting furious because he had a DNR. I remember them telling us he might not make it. I remember going into the bathroom and kicking and punching the stall door so hard it dented in the middle and a nurse came in and yelled at me. I remember after that he couldn't breath on his own and couldn't talk. I remember he wrote us notes in a notebook. His mind was all there, but his body wasn't cooperating. I remember taking him home and knowing that it was only because he didn't want to die in the hospital. I remember the day he stopped breathing. I was sitting at the kitchen table (his bed was set up in the living room) and I couldn't understand why no one was helping him, why my mom and gma who were nurses didn't stop it, why I wasn't allowed out of the kitchen....

I hate that as I get older, my memory of all the things about him starts to grow fuzzy. But there are some things I will always remember.

  • He would wake me up with Reveille. My grandfather served in the Army in WW2 and he had the most beautiful silver trumpet. And every now and then I would get an Army wake up call blasted in my room.
  • He loved to sing and whistle. On the days he didn't wake me up with Reveille, I would sometimes get serenaded by opera music. He'd throw a record on the player and sing along in a beautiful Tenor voice. I think it's all his fault that I appreciate classical music, love to sing (even opera - it was my dream as a kid to sing with Pavarotti and I'd sing along whenever he was on PBS) and find foreign languages fascinating.
  • Whisker face. He called his facial hair his whiskers. On days when he'd get scruffy, if he was hugging me, he'd rub his chin or cheek on my forehead or cheek because he knew it grossed me out as a kid that it felt like sandpaper. After he'd shave, he always smelled like Brut cologne/aftershave. I remember running up to feel his cheek when I'd smell that. I admit, I still have his old bottle of Brut in my mementos box and the smell still reminds me of him.
  • Boxers and under shirts. My grandfather was most certainly king of his castle. When he was done working he'd lounge around in boxers, a white men's undershirt, knee-high white socks and slippers. he would read his newspaper and if anyone came to visit, he'd flip the edge down and say hello and if they didn't like his outfit they could leave. It was so funny.
  • The baby blue pick up. The car I remember most that he had was a little baby-blue Ford pick-up. It had a cap over the bed and he had a seat bolted in there that my cousin and I sometimes took turns riding in.
  • Overalls. Whenever he worked outside he'd wear these dark denim overalls and flannel shirts.
  • Her treated my grandma like she was the only woman in the world and loved her completely.
  • He made the best scrambled eggs and he'd always buy the big Texas glazed donuts and cut them up to share.
  • He bet me that if I made it through my 6th grade year with perfect attendance he'd give me a $100 bill. I won the bet.
  • My grandma had a Nativity set that we all loved to play with at Christmas. He made handmade copies of it's barn for his daughters and grandkids. 2 years ago I found the perfect match to my grandmas Jesus, Mary and Joseph for mine. (and one sheep LoL)
  • He loved birds, domestic and wild. he always had cockatiels and he'd teach them to ride around on his shoulder in the house, and they'd steal crumbs off his lips and chin when he ate toast.
  • He let my cousin and I dress him up with doll clothes and silly things. (I have a pic, I'll have to scan and post it)
  • He was the president of our county's Democrat Party for a while. I remember going to the meetings with him and still run into some of the politicians I met back then off and on. It started my interest in how politics work...
  • He built all the rock walls on my family's property by had with no help. They are beautiful sandstone walls and they don't use any concrete.
  • He bought me my first bike and taught me how to ride.
  • We always went on the best road trips with him to different places all over the state.
    He loved camping.
  • He loved model trains and always dreamed of setting up a hardcore display of them in the basement to tinker with. He sadly never got to do that.
  • He'd always sneak over to our house for coffee on the mornings he'd accidentally wake my grandma up too early and get in trouble. (She was not big on getting woke up early on her days off and he was always an early bird.)
  • He told the best stories and had the best laugh.
  • I wish I had know back then how short our time together was going to be. I wish I had asked more questions and paid more attention. I still wish he was here.

I hope that he'd be proud of who I've become and I look forward to seeing him again someday so I can share with him all the stories he's missed out on.

I wish you all could have met him. I think you'dve loved him just as much as I did. Guess I just wanted to share a little about him with you. Thanks for reading.


Christine Bowser said...

hey charity!

what a beautiful entry. seriously. i remember little things about your grandparents (& mom, of course), too...you hail from a beautiful family! =)i still remember the basement clear as day!!!



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