My Grandfather

A picture of my grandfather sits in the kitchen. He appears young and confident. His handsome face is unlined, though his eyes show a tiredness that has never faded. His hair curls tightly, much like my brother’s does. I guess that he is in his late twenties in this photo. Possibly younger.
My grandfather was born in 1922. As I look at him, I can imagine that his world was very different from my own in some ways. His mother left him at a very young age because she was light-skinned enough to pass for white but he was obviously colored. He always loved his mother though and took care of her at the end of her life, in the same way he’d always taken care of everyone. I remember her. A tiny, sick lady who smelled funny and wasn’t particularly fond of children. But I loved her house. Most of it anyway. I was always convinced it was filled with secrets and treasures.
My grandfather is very old now. His body is bent with age and sometimes he doesnt remember me. His hands, though are still large and warm. His eyes turned blue when I was a child because he has glaucoma. I’ve always thought they were beautiful. My mother looks a lot like him. And since I look like my mother, I suppose I do too.
He bounced me on his knees and told me stories. And he always had blow-pop suckers for us when we came to visit. My grandfather is the most frugal (also known as cheap) person I’ve ever met. I don’t blame him for it. After all, he did grow up during the Great Depression. But I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve seen him pick something out of the trash can and eat it. And when I would say, “Eww, Granddaddy, you’re not supposed to eat that.” He’d look at me as if I were the silly one and tell me that there was nothing wrong with that and people shouldn’t be wasting perfectly good food. He spent a few years drafted into the army during WWII. Those are some of his favorite memories. Probably because of how much time he spent flirting with German girls. He never actually saw combat since his job was communications. He worked on telephone lines. Ironically, when he came back to the states, he couldn’t get a job doing that because he was black. So he became a nurse at the VA hospital. He was such a workaholic that by the time he retired, he had 2 full years of vacation saved up.
He used to grow roses. Everyday, he’d eat a banana and save the peel. And I would sit nearby and talk to him as he cut the banana peel into tiny pieces with a giant pair of black scissors. When I finally asked why, he said potassium is good for roses. As I do not have much interest in gardening, I took his word for it. He had the most beautiful roses. They were all different colors too. My favorite ones were the pink and the yellow ones. Everytime I’d visit, I’d always ask if I could have one.
My grandfather saves everything too. The garage was rarely ever opened because it had stuff piled from floor to ceiling. You can’t even walk in there.
About 13 years ago, my grandparents got back together. My mom was a little angry at the time. They’d been divorced for 22 years, and for that whole time, hated each other. You’d have thought the world would have spontaneously combusted before those two settled their differences. But somewhere along the line, a minor miracle occurred. I’m glad. Even though it wasnt the best situation, it gives me hope for love and marriage to see that even after all their problems, they still loved each other and did their best to work it all out.
I wonder, if the young man my grandfather was in this picture could’ve ever imagined the person he’s become? I wonder if one day, one of my grandchildren will see a picture of me and remember me kindly.

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