What I remember of my grandfather~
I sat with him after school most everyday to watch his stories AKA
“The Guiding Light.” True love looked to me like Philip Spaulding and
his girlfriend, Beth.
He would sit in his recliner on the weekends, enthralled by wrestling.
I wouldn’t watch that, but I occasionally watched a Steelers game with
him. I learned enough about football that I can offer commentary and
explanation to my son if we happen to be watching the Superbowl beyond
the halftime show.
His Cadillac was his most prized possession and I was the grandchild
lucky enough to be responsible for washing it, and drying it with a
chamois cloth. This monthly chore, done properly, gave me the little
bit of spending cash I had.
He was a man of deliberate process. I can still see him spreading out
his tools before starting to polish his black dress shoes to a shine.
Sometimes he would cough and it would make us nervous. That haunting
sound exposed his fallibility, which seemed impossible; he wasn’t
mortal. He would live forever, despite his lungs which were damaged
after his years in the coal mine.
He would sit outside in the early afternoon with my gram just waiting
for neighbors to walk by and chat. The grandchildren often swung on
the railings that held up the porch roof. It was painful when he
scolded us for it, but I understand the reason for his insistence now.
I still have the big yellow polo shirt I took from him one day. It fit
me like a dress but I wanted to have it anyway. I always felt small
and cared for in his presence.
His mortar and pestle lived in the bathroom, they only came out when
he felt he needed to shave– most often before he headed to church.
His comb sat in the bristles of his hairbrush, criss-crossed on his
dresser in the bedroom. They validated him to me, they proved he
existed. It was the one constant that signified his daily routine and
his place in my life.
In the mornings my gram would poor their coffee from the percolator on
the stove. He would pour the milk and make each cup spill over. First
they drank the cup, then they poured the overflow back in and drank
that too. How I longed to be a grown up and join in this ritual.
I remember putting my hand in his after he called out to me: Lizbette.
That sound still echoes.