Grandfather [writing prompt]

Want to write a book? Our proven program, 100 Day Book begins soon. Get the process to finish your book now. Learn more and sign up here.

PRACTICE

For this writing practice, use the following creative writing prompt:

Write a scene or story involving a grandfather.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished, post your practice in the comments section.

And if you post, please be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.

grandfather

Photo by aroid.

Here's my practice:

We had dinner with him, the old man, at a trendy steakhouse in town. We went there all the time, and to afford it we steered clear of the steaks and had burgers and margaritas instead. The place was famous for their cocktails and on the drink menu they listed the year of each drink's creation. Margarita's were invented in 1941.

My grandfather isn't related by blood. He's not actually my grandfather, but that's not part of the story. He grew up in Los Angeles, the city where all my family found themselves at some point in the middle of the last century. He loved jazz, and would walk through the halls of his mostly-white high school thinking of mostly-black nightclubs they would go to at night filled with smoke and red light and dark men who played music that sounded to him like scotch and dancing and oak wood in the fireplace of a cabin nobody ever went to anymore. I think it was then he realized his family had betrayed him, that he realized his joy and purpose wouldn't be found in a Presbyterian church building. It was in the dark nooks, the dusty corners of life. It was in the soil and the pads of your fingers sliding along the soft keys of your clarinet. He began to despise his father's well-coordinated world.

And when Obama ran for office, he voted for him because he was from Chicago, that haven for jazz.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

100 Day Book Cover

Closes in . . .

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Want to Write a Book?

100 Day Book Starts Soon: Sign up for our proven program, 100 Day Book, and get the coaching, training, and accountability you need to finally become and author and finish your book. The program closes soon though, so sign up now.

247 Comments

  1. Lynn

     He wasn’t a big man, my grandfather,
    but he was must have been important. It was his house at which they
    gathered, the other hunters. I watched them from the back porch of my
    grandparent’s house. Most of them in bib overalls, some in denim
    britches. Some wore heavy tweed coats to ward off the morning chill.
    They stood at the edge of the garden and chatted quietly while they
    drank hot coffee, the steam rising from their Styrofoam cups like
    chimney smoke.

    They waited.

    Reply
    • Rebekah Schulz-Jackson

      Favorite line: “They stood at the edge of the garden and chatted quietly while they drank hot coffee, the steam rising from their Styrofoam cups like chimney smoke.”

      Wow! Instant brain-picture!

      Reply
    • Pilar Arsenec

      I like this, I was able to see it. 🙂

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      Simple and very effective details. This is great.  

      Reply
  2. Plumjoppa

    All my daughter can remember about grandpa is that he used to say “who’s that little girl” when we
    would visit. She knew about Grandpa’s Chair, and that only grandpa
    could sit in it, except for the rare occasions when a grandchild was
    placed on his lap. He would never hoist one there himself. He
    didn’t like the noise of the families visiting, even though he was
    going deaf. He couldn’t relax with the world moving so quickly,
    small toddlers darting under foot, sticky fingers touching ceramic
    figurines.

    “Hey Ma, watch that one, he’s going
    to break that duck!”

    Every morning, grandpa would make the
    only meal he felt a man should be prevailed upon to make, breakfast.
    He poured milk and sugar on toast and called it milktoast.  Well into his 90s, he put on his green cotton cap, and ambled out to the shed to tinker  with hoes, clamps and his lawn
    tractor. He worked slowly, and sat in the white plastic chair to
    rest. He gazed at the mountain before him, that had allowed him to
    overlook the junk yard in the valley, when deciding on this land. He
    thought only of what he had lost, his farm, tractor, independence,
    purpose. Who needed him now? He thought of his blue Ford F150
    truck, the one with dents in the side from sideswiping that tree.
    Gone now, discretely given to his son instead of giving up his drivers
    license.

    Reply
    • Scharz21

      mountain vs junk yard – love it!

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      I like this picture of a man trying to figure out what to do with himself and his stuff at the end of his life.  It’s sad but there is something very functional about how he is handling things.  

      Reply
  3. Suzie Gallagher

    My grandfather got a real velvet cap for playing rugby for his county, he was more proud of the teeth lost in a brawl on the pitch. I used to pull his whiskers when he was asleep.
    He taught me how to gamble, fruit machines were his vice, I raised a glass of bubbly to him in Vegas when I won twenty thou. I raised a glass of water to him in my sobriety on his birthday this year.He gave me cooking sherry from the age of eight, it made me “a-meen-able” he said. I remember floating in the ether of nothingness, happily hovering above images I didn’t understand. I have a garden with no shed and I grow vegetables, my children eat from the garden.He sold dried tray meals that could be reconstituted with hot water, granny would not have them in the house so we ate them in the shed where no one would find us, after the “a-pear-a teeve” and the odd feelings. We don’t speak ill of the dead in Ireland.I loved my grandfather more than any of my other relatives. He loved me best too. We loved with a passion. He died before I reached thirteen. I cried buckets at the funeral. There was a girl there, she looked like me, she cried too.

    Reply
    • Pilar Arsenec

      Gosh, he sounds like a great grandfather. Very touching.

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      That was beautiful Suzie.  I’m glad you got to know him.  I’ll toast him and you right now with my own glass of water.  Cheers and go with God.  

      Reply
    • John Fisher

      Such a loving look back at a grandfather so loved — I remember I was twelve too the year both my Grandpa’s died — I was inconsolable.   You’ve hit upon the universal love for one’s elders here I think!

      Reply
    • Cindy Christeson

      That was precious Suzie, my grandfather loved me like that too.  We are blessed to have had that kind of love.

      Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      This is a very touching tribute, Suzie. Reading through, I was shocked he died when you were so young. Your scenes are so vivid.

      Katie

      Reply
    • Suzie Gallagher

      Thank you all for your beautiful comments, this man is not real. One of my grandads kept stilton on his desk where he saw patients until the maggots came and then ate it in front of people for shock value. The other one was quiet, quietly out of the way of my grandma and quietly, softly having affairs around town.

      This piece though, I need your help, I am showing not telling, leaving chunks of ether for the reader to grasp and “get” the real meaning. Obviously I am doing it wrong because you all are calling him lovely. Am I too subtle, or just missing the mark completely? What am I doing wrong (this is not the first time that my subtext has been ignored) that the insidious nature of abusers is not seen but only the cheerful pretend self.

      “We loved with a passion” “we don’t speak ill of the dead in Ireland” “in the shed here no one would find us” “floating above images I didn’t understand”

      For example “my memoir” or my testimony reads – I met love when I was two years old.

      Personally I think this means I met a mighty unconditional love at two but before that there was no love, this opens it up for the listener to put their own take on it without me having to explain how I came to be in that position. Am I wrong? Have I lost the plot completely.

       

      Reply
      • Mirelba

        Hi Suzie- I find it frustrating when people don’t react to my questions, so here I am responding to yours. 
        I think your text was subtle, which I generally like, but too subtle.  Maybe because you waited too long to introduce it, so that it left me confused when it entered the picture.  There is no foreshadowing in the first paragraph, the pulling on his whiskers when he slept doesn’t do it- lots of kids see their grandparents doze off, so it’s not much of a hint.

          I understood that you got over a drinking problem in your 2nd paragraph, but you only let us understand that it was probably serioulsy helped along/begun by the grandfather in the 3rd paragraph. In that same paragraph, you mention that you have a garden with no shed, by which time I was totally confused, because I had no idea what that was about.  What the girl went through in the shed is only hinted at in the next paragraph.  And although you did write in the shed “where no one would find us” it was prefaced by the grandmother not allowing the meal in the house, so at first reading I assumed it was so the grandmother wouldn’t know about the ‘forbidden’ meal.  It’s as if you add details to the subtlety which only serve to obfuscate the issue making it hard to see what’s really there.

        You generally write such nice pieces, but this one feels all over the place, it needs tweaking so that when you lead us to what happens, it is subtle but clear.

        My 2 cents, ’cause I definitely think you can do it.

        Reply
          • Ernest

            hey..I don’t mean to butt in.. but could you please review what i wrote … it would mean a lot to get tips from someone who writes so well!!

        • Thuy Yau

          Wow, what honest and respectful advice!

          Reply
          • Mirelba

            thanks.

      • Zoe Beech

        Oh yes, this was great, but too subtle.  I read the piece and thought, what an eccentric old man – and thought he had contributed to her drinking problem, but didn’t see the abuse there. ‘We loved with a passion’ to me seemed just like this was an emotional and close family.  Also, the shed scene would have made more sense if you keep it together and add something a little more sinister – you mention not having a shed before you say ‘where no one would find us’ and I didn’t see the punch in that either.  It just needs a few changes, I think, to make this as crystal in our minds as yours.  But excellent writing.

        Reply
      • Marla

        Suzie,

        I read it twice before I got it. What sealed it for me was that she had no shed. I think your trouble is that your writing is so lovely. Maybe be a little more direct in the 1st paragraph.

        Reply
        • Suzie Gallagher

          thanks Marla, I think I was aiming for the fuzz of knowing but not knowing so there was genuine love for the grandfather mixed up in lust/love that was inappropriate. So there is that mix up of affectionate memories and hints of a darker side.

          Reply
      • Amanda

        I understood where you were going with the first sentence of the third paragraph. You did an excellent job illustrating the progressive manipulation by the abuser, the disassociation of the victim to the abuse, and the residual effects. It’s dark, but light. Wistful, yet angry. I like it.

        Reply
    • Lisa Roberts

      Suzie, I saw the subtext clearly.  From the beginning when you raise a glass to him I wonder right there how he might have contributed to the hinted issue of alcohol abuse.  When at 8, he gives you cooking sherry (what other alcohol could an adult give a child that they might be able to pass off as something sweet or tasty?) and you float “in the ether of nothingness…above images” you didn’t understand I saw that as implying he got you drunk to abuse you.  I made the same inference in the 4th paragraph…Your last paragraph can be seen to show the mixed feelings a child feels at the hands of their abuser…on the one hand they are made to feel “special” and on the other hand, there is relief that the abuser is dead.  Well done!

      Reply
    • emd04

      Love how you convey his accent through writing. Great piece. 

      Reply
    • Ernest

      wow!! beautifully written!

      Reply
    • Julianausten

      I get it 🙁 Sadly I have come to distrust my “getting” – seeing bad stuff – oh lets not beat around the bush – seeing abuse because often it’s just me – my experience, my sensitivity and its not really there. I believe the problem here is that the piece is short and its hard to convey the complexity of that situation – the love that is felt for an abuser vs the betrayal of that affection and all the rest of it!  This would work beautifully in a longer piece. So that a reader who didn’t get it until page 40 could go back and go Ah Hah! I love that in a book the fore-shadowing. Sorry this is probably completely incoherent.

      Reply
    • Yvette Carol

      Lovely. Some of your best writing, Suzie.

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       this is a very clever piece of writing Suzie.  You have shown the character so well in the first paragraph and also introduced the innocence of the child.  Your second paragraph takes us into a darker world of lifetime influences and a battle against terrible childhood experiences.  I am not sure that you need the complete last sentence of the third paragraph.  but the last sentence of the fourth paragraph is well placed, a link to the final paragraph.
      Congratulations. 

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This was incredible, Suzie. You need to send this somewhere. Just as is, no need to add to it. It’s complete, I think. Let me know if you need ideas on where to send it.

      Reply
      • Suzie Gallagher

        Thanks Joe, yes please tell me where to send it. I guess I have to do this step eventually why not now.

        Reply
    • Cynthia Montgomery

      Beautiful and tragic. Perhaps that is what I experience due to the personal nature alcoholism has in my life. However, to bring those feelings to a head, no matter what they are, is the sign of a successful piece correct? So, very well done.

      Reply
    • Raquel Barrientos

      Very nice.

      Reply
    • Rachael Anderson

      awwwww, who was the girl?!

      Reply
  4. Scharz21

    Sky blue hardhat under his arm and gnarled hand holding a tin lunchbox he’d walk out the back door and into pre-dawn West Virginia. Since I was small I really didn’t understand what he did between the time the old green Pontiac rolled up the driveway in the morning and when he walked through the same back door just as my grandmother was setting places on the checkered plastic tablecloth every afternoon.  As I got older I learned that while I was above the town in a second floor classroom or was underwater in the Oglebay Park swimming pool he was a thousand feet underground scraping cave walls for coal and not realizing that the fuel’s by-product was not pollution but cancer. I remember most of his words not so much that there weren’t many spoken but those that did appear were necessary and left you wanting more and as I sit and recall his infrequent wisdom I look up to the shelf that holds a gift from my grandmother.  A dusty old hardhat whose color in my fading mind matches the eyes of my grandfather.

    Reply
    • Rebekah Schulz-Jackson

       Wow! Great first line, and I love the part about not understanding where your grandfather went — vivid and relatable. I want to see where this is going!

      Reply
    • Cindy Christeson

      Oh…his sacrifice and his love.  Well written!

      Reply
    • Zoe Beech

      Just beautiful.  My favourite line  is you being on the second floor and him a thousand feet underground, but there are so many beautiful sentences here.

      Reply
  5. Chihuahua Zero

    “My Favorite Granddaughter”

    My pregnant granddaughter, Cynthia, was the one designated to check that I hadn’t fallen at home most days. For that, I was grateful.
    Despite having opened one of the Oreos packages for herself, she was putting everything away slowly and carefully, in all the right cabinets and refrigerator shelves.

     I stood in the doorway, my cane tip pressed agains the peeling trim. “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl yet?”

    “Not yet.” Cynthia tilted her head. “well, not officially.” She frumpled a Bunny loaf out of the paper bag and slid open the old bread box. “I feel like it’s a she.”

    I grinned. “You’re most certainly right, if you inherited the family intuition. An one hundred percent rate! Your grandmother knew the genres of your brother Thomas, your sister Patti, and the twins Martian and Shelly. Too bad they’re away. But your grandmother even guessed what ordered the twins would pop out!”

    Cynthia giggled. “Grandpa, you already told me that story last week.”

    I nodded grimly. My memory seemed to slip more and more every visit. More and more I spaced out, my mind like a tripod camera not capturing any film, or a printer with an empty carthage only inking spots and blots. What was worse was how my body creaked and I walked less and less as my lungs wakened. Senility would come any day, and place me into a sorry, sorry state until my grave.

    Cynthia smiled sadly too, as she stacked the Double Stuffs, with vanilla-chocolate filling. My favorites. They were the closest cookies to the wafers I bought my late wife, Kate, on our first date. And on the date I proposed to her.

    I exhaled deeply. “Cynthia, can you do one favor for me?”

    “Anything.” She rubbed her stomach, where her baby was.

    “As soon as she is born, will you have someone drive me to see her? I’ll like to see my great-granddaughter while I still have the chance.”

    Cynthia beamed as she folded up the paper bags. “Don’t worry. I know you’ll make it.” She walked up to me and bent her knees so she looked at me at eye level. She stared into my eyes. “I won’t leave you, like all my other siblings.”

    “You’ll have to leave this town one day,” I said. “Only if for the child. One day, this town will die.”

    “Nonsense. She’ll love it here. And she’ll love you.” She opened her hand to reveal an Oreo. “As long as there’re these, you’re not going to be off your rocker.”

    Cynthia slipped one of the cookies off the filling and popped it into her mouth. As she savored it, just how Kate used to eat the wafers, I was reminded about why she was my favorite granddaughter.

    Reply
    • Rebekah Schulz-Jackson

       I really like the relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter here. You’ve done a nice job of showing (rather than telling) us some of the things that qualify Cynthia as “favorite granddaughter”. (Is this auto/biographical or fiction? Just curious.)

      Reply
      • Chihuahua Zero

        It’s fiction, although I used my great-grandma’s kitchen as a model for the setting. And my dad’s bread box. And I think the Oreos made it in because someone bought them to class as a snack.

        Reply
        • Rebekah Schulz-Jackson

           Well then congratulations on narration so convincing that I thought you could be an old man! =)

          Reply
          • Chihuahua Zero

            Thanks!

            Considering that I’m a teenager, that’s probably a feat for me.

    • Plumjoppa

       I love that this is told from Grandpa’s point of view. 

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      I like this because it’s more like a story than a memoir.  I can see them enjoying their oreos now.  

      Reply
  6. Duncanann4

    The little girl squealed with delight, the swing seemed to fly through the air and then plummet. Each time she would feel the steady strong hands of her grandfather push her forward into the blue. She stretched her arms out and closed her eyes and in an instant she was a bird flying free. Her grandfather’s hearty laugh filled her ears.

    “Your mother used to do the same thing when she was your age. What kind of bird are you?” He asked, and she knew that he wasn’t mocking. Grandfather never mocked her. 

    “I’m a robin!” The little girl yelled with joy. She started to sing and the swing swung forward again. She opened her eyes as yet again she grew close to the blue one more time.

    “I love robbins! They’re the first sign of spring that doesn’t make me sneeze.” Grandfather laughed his hearty laugh, and she couldn’t help but laugh along.

    It was a warm scene that came back to her mind as she stood over his headstone. That had been twenty-five years ago, and even now the memory made her smile. Ever since that day, any time she saw or heard a robin, she thought of her grandfather. Him, his pipe, and the way his wrinkles would scrunch up when he smiled would be there in her minds eye. She knelt down and brushed some twigs away and as she did, she heard it, the distinct song of a robin. She laughed a hearty laugh and stayed a few minutes longer.

    Reply
    • Pilar Arsenec

      So beautiful, I enjoyed reading this.

      Reply
    • ladywriter616

      This is beautiful. I enjoy how you marked this memory and now have a vivid annual reminder of this otherwise everyday yet extraordinary moment between you and your grandfather.

      Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      Very nice. It challenges me, as a grandpa of 2, going on 3, to be mindful of how my words and actions last in their memory long after I’m gone. I so want those memories to be as happy as yours.

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      Beautiful.  I love the part about “what kind of bird are you”.  It seems like often grandparents and their grandchildren are allowed more time to imagine and play than other family pairings.  

      Reply
  7. ladywriter616

    He made everything with his own hands. Even as a
    six-year-old girl, I was in awe of the three-room garage, a workroom with
    leaded glass windows that housed greasy screwdrivers, toothy wrenches and drawers
    and drawers of nuts, bolts and nails. The smells of must, oil and woodshavings
    are what I remember most. Remnants of the cars he fixed, the lawn he mowed and
    the home he built for he and his bride so many years ago.

     

    A Polish immigrant, he landed in Flint, Mich. I know very
    little about him. He died when I was six, and he wasn’t really my grandfather.
    He was my dad’s foster mother’s dad – the first old person I ever knew. I have faded memories of his small, fragile
    frame (he was 86 when he died), his evident Polish accent and his strong,
    sturdy hands. The hands he built the all-stone, two-story cape cod on what was
    once a country road. The hands that planted rows of sour green grapes I ate straight
    from the vine in summertime. The hands that built the platform swing that my
    brother, cousins and I spent hours on during family gatherings.

     

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      That was great.  I got the odor of sawdust from it when you were talking about his tools.  I like your idea of having part of him still there not just in your memories of him but of the grapes he planted and the swings he built.  

      Reply
  8. Pilar Arsenec

    There was an awkward tension between us. I didn’t understand what he was saying as he was bouncing me up and down on his lap. He smiled. I smiled back. We came from two different worlds.  I felt like an alien.  He grew up in this small fishing village. He rough chapped hands tell the story. Especially as he started shoving steamed mussels down my throat. I didn’t want to disappoint him by telling him to stop.  

    Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      Pilar, this really choked me up. I can sense sense your grief and longing. The last two lines are powerful images.

      Reply
      • Pilar Arsenec

        Hi there, thanks for dropping by and commenting. Sorry, I didn’t mean to choke you up. 🙁  Now I’m going to go read what you wrote, I always love what you write. Even your comments are good.

        Reply
    • Mariaanne

      Oh Pilar how simply and well said.  Those mussels  can represent so much that is shoved down one generations throat by the older generations. 

      Reply
      • Pilar Arsenec

        Thanks Mariaanne. You know, you have a great point there. 🙂

        Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      I agree with Mariaanne–simple and well-said.
      (Although, I will confess I first read, “shoving steamed muscles down my throat” and I had pause, rewind, and reread before I saw my own error. Makes more sense your way. Funnier mine.)

      Reply
  9. womenofletters

    Sweat dripped from his wrinkled brow. Skinny, burned-brown arms bent, pushing the shovel deep down the dirt. I was seven and had my arms curled around my knees, sitting and watching by the shades to protect my pale skin from the bright sun. My grandfather would soon fade away.

    He had never been more than a hard working man, analphabetic, and a savant at math without any form of recognition.

    His vision blurred and sounds faded. He couldn’t move, that once working man. Nor could he talk. With a foul expression his daughter dragged his limp body around the house.

    The proud of a land worker failed him on his deathbed – promising he would come to get that wench of a daughter. A silent cry in his wide blind dark eyes, ‘I don’t want to die’.

    Poverty had stolen his life away and left only a body to be used as a weapon. Poor humans didn’t deserve a chance, they were tools, chances were meant for the rich. But my grandfather lived a good life, earned enough money and enjoyed nice meals. For her sake, my grandmother forced me to believe so.

    Reply
    • Tom Wideman

      Wow! What a powerful image, seeing your once strong grandfather turned into a lifeless pawn in a family squabble. So sad, but told brilliantly.

      Reply
      • womenofletters

        Thanks, I’m glad I didn’t mess up the practice 🙂 

        Reply
    • Mariaanne

      The second sentence is wonderful. It reads sort of like poetry. 

      Reply
      • womenofletters

        Thank you for the comment, now that I looked back I noticed that I used group of words that start with the same letter, so maybe that’s what caused the beat.

        Reply
  10. Tom Wideman

    My grandpa was part of the last generation of great American farmers, before they went all soft and high-tech. He and his wife, Gert reared four strong and handsome children on their family farm. A sanctuary of rolling hills and river bluffs in the Mississippi river bottom he and his brother cleared off with an axe, a saw and their four calloused hands. A six-room house built with hand-honed bricks made from the sand out of the creek running through their lower pasture. The red dairy barn covered in tin-roofing, flanked by a sentinel stone silo  and surrounded by a family of mismatched  stone and frame sheds and well-houses.

    Through the eyes of his admiring grandson, I thought the farm was as much a part of him, as grandma was. They all went together. Their own sacred trinity. 

    Grandpa was a weathered old barn, always open to friends, as well as a variety of stray animals and hobos walking the tracks down by the river. He was a massive old silo that stood strong as he weathered floods and droughts through years of changing seasons. Grandpa was formed out of the same sandy soil that provided the home for his family; a fortress against the elements and evil of his day. He was honed and chiseled by Life, bearing the scars and marks that only served to make him stronger.

    Grandpa also had his soft side as well. Whether it was his twanging out love songs to his sweetheart while driving into town for an ice cream, or letting his granddaughters give him a makeover and pedicure, he was always a gentle touch with his girls. He was a man of faith, who prayed for rain to fall and floodwaters to recede and taught the men’s Sunday School class for several decades at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church.

    Today, as a grandpa myself, I see the old man looking back at me while I shave. I see his wrinkles and scars, his same thinning hair and expanding belly. I pray I will see the same godly qualities as well.

    Reply
    • Pilar Arsenec

      You are such a great writer, seriously.

      Reply
    • womenofletters

      This really creates a nice image of what kind of man he was and what life was like. The comparison of his character to the barn, silo, sandy soil, etc. was really beautiful. 

      All in all, a very clean and balanced piece of work.I agree with Pilar, you’re a great writer. 

      Reply
    • Mariaanne

      That is so well written Tom.  I like the ending when you see him in yourself after seeing him in so many other things.  We do begin to look more like our parents and grandparents as we age, and like you I hope I have some of their good qualities.  

      Reply
    • Katherine

      This is really well written.  I love how you compare him to the parts of the farm.  I feel like I can imagine the place and the person completely.

      Reply
    • Cindy Christeson

      Beautiful Tom…I especially like that grandpa was a weathered old barn…ah but with such a soft side too.  It sounds like he lives on through you!  Well done!

      Reply
    • John Fisher

      Beautiful as only writing straight from the heart can be.

      Reply
    • Diana Trautwein

      I LOVE this – and I am thrilled to see another grandparent in this group. Thanks for the rich detail and lovely metaphors. He’s a man I would love to meet.

      Reply
    • Suzie Gallagher

      the circle of life Tom, well executed piece, is he real? Mine was makey uppy as usual.

      Reply
    • Lisa Roberts

      I really enjoyed this.  I liked how you introduced the idea of your grandfather and the farm being one and the same from the first paragraph where you describe the rolling hills and bluffs as being cleared by his own “calloused hands.”  It sets up the 2nd paragraph beautifully…

      Reply
    • Zoe Beech

      This is beautiful!  You get such a sense of him, and the family he raised…  So many great lines – ‘He was a massive old silo that stood strong as he weathered floods and droughts…’ that alone is SUCH a great metaphor.  But my favourite is ‘I thought the farm was as much a part of him as grandma was.’ – WOW – that’s the kind of ‘truth’ that readers are looking for, and identify with so strongly, giving words to deep feelings we don’t understand.  

      Reply
    • Marla

      I love your use of the word trinity. So beautiful.

      Reply
    • Yvette Carol

      Grandpa was a weathered old barn is wonderful use of metaphor!

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       Yes, they are important people, grandfathers.  I think you have captured this idea very strongly.  Your writing flows so smoothly that two small things leapt off the page and I feel I should mention them – “sand” in line six and “also” and “as well” the first line of the second last paragraph.  congratulations on a lovely evocative piece.

      Reply
    • Samantha Jo Davis

      I love this one, how you described your grandfather AS his farm and then as yourself. The visual of you seeing your grandfather in the mirror really recreates that pride felt when we see our elders in ourselves. Beautiful, thank you.

      Reply
  11. Mariaanne

    This is about a grandfather that I never knew but I have a picture of him and my grandmother at Atlantic City on their honeymoon in about 1918. 

    The bottles of beer smacked and broke in volleys, in the big metal sink, in the basement, while my father, a boy of eight, stood in the middle of the room wondering whether to hide or to try to stop his mother from breaking every bottle they had made that month. 

    During prohibition the beer companies didn’t sell beer but did sell kits to make home brew. The kit included all the ingredients and a reciepe.  My father and grandfather brewed beer in the basement of their house by the bay. Sometimes as the beer fermented and released gas, the caps would blow off of the bottles and hit the ceiling of the basement which was also the floor of the dining room.  My grandmother and great-grandmother would hear the caps thump against the floor and take it upon themselves to rid the house of the evil alcohol.    

    “Get thee behind,” she yelled as she threw the bottles smashing them in the sink. 

    “Your father has no strength to repel Satan.  He is an alcoholic,” she said when she was finished.  Then she wiped her hand on her apron and went upstairs.  

    “We have to find a way to keep the caps from flying off,” was all his father said, and they walked out to the beach to smoke cigars.  My father was ten so he only got one puff off each cigar.  His father was his best friend and he was sure that the devil didn’t live in the bottles of beer that they made.  

    *

    My grandfather came into the dining room where the family was eating breakfast,

    “I’ve poisoned myself,” he said. 

    My father drove him to the hospital.  They were lucky they still had a car.  The depression was in full swing.  The car smelled like cigars and perfume.  Smells of wealth lingered in the car, reminders of a better time that were slowly evaporating, thinning but glistening, gold and rich red, lace and tassels, antimacassars and watch fobs.  

    He listened to his father say he didn’t want to die, and he listened to his father choke and gurgle and he knew his father was dead before they got to the hospital.

    Reply
    • Pilar Arsenec

      Wow Marianne, this is great!  I love it. 

      Reply
      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Pilar

        Reply
    • Brandon Rodgers

      There’s so much story in that little *  I liked it.

      Reply
      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Brandon

        Reply
    • Cindy Christeson

      Wow, that was powerful Marianne…beautiful sentences too….smells of wealth lingered….

      Reply
      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Cindy

        Reply
        • Mirelba

            Yup, Marianne, that’s the sentence that stayed with me as well. the one where the smell of wealth lingered on. Well done.  Each family with their special stories passed down…

          Reply
          • Mariaanne

            It’s funny that sentence just rolled out completely unplanned. I was thinking about how cars used to smell when they contained less “plastic” than they do now.  I remember the perfume my great-grandmother  wore “emerude’ which smells kind of like play dough but sweeter.  

      • Mirelba

         Yup, Marianne, that’s the sentence that stayed with me as well.  Well done.  Each family with their special stories passed down…

        Reply
      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Katie.  

        Reply
    • Zoe Beech

      This is so gripping, Mariaane.  From the first crash of the beer bottles, to the end drive to the hospital, you demand the readers attention.  And you go from humour to sadness so quickly but the story doesn’t skip a beat.  I love the wisdom of the ten year old, and those smells that ‘were slowly evaporating.’  Great.

      Reply
      • Mariaanne

        Thanks Zoe!

        Reply
    • Marla

      My gosh Marianne. Every post of yours is stronger than the last. The 1st paragraph hooked me & I couldn’t stop!

      Reply
    • Yvette Carol

      Brrr, that choking and gurgling at the end were totally visceral.

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       This is a great story.  The ending left me feeling desolate

      Reply
  12. Doogie Glassford

    He was not the kind of guy that was easy to get along with. He was gregarious with friends and family but moody or pensive when alone. He’d worked hard all his life, even before he came to America. He was a Scotsman as was his father before him. Now, he is an American… don’t ever call him anything else.

    His generation lived in black and white, and I’m not just talking about photographs and television. It is how they saw things. It’s not that they didn’t love color, they had a grand respect for nature and life. They had no patience for gray, for people who muddled through life claiming tact as a replacement for honesty.

    My father’s father was a large man. I think he appeared much bigger than he actually was, but he was a very strong man, worked two full-time jobs and volunteered as a fireman. He fathered 14 children and lost 2 shortly after they were born. He never questioned what had always been in his family line, trusting the Good Lord to provide as he and his lovely bride continued to have babies for the first 25 years of their marriage.

    He was not a religious man, but he had a strong faith in God. We all went to Sunday Mass to please our grandmother. If we did not attend morning mass we were not welcome at here dinner table. It was just they way it was, black and white, nothing gray. A generation that helped build our country into the amazing nation it is today.

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      A sharply drawn description that commands respect.  

      Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      Two full-time jobs, a volunteer fireman, AND 14 children?

      Reply
  13. John Fisher

    Grandma did the talking  when it came to telling how she and Grandpa came to adopt my uncle, R.B.  It was a Gothic tale involving a woman in black who came to town in a black buggy bringing an infant who needed a home.  It never occurred to me at my young age to question such a story; everything they related about the times in which they grew up might have described life on another world.

    But looking back, I came to realize that my Grandpa had behaved a bit oddly when the woman-in-black story was being recited.  A twinkling amusement in his blue eyes, so inconsistent  with Grandma’s somber and sentimental narrative that it had almost the quality of a teenager’s inappropriate levity in church, would light his features at odd moments; at other points there was a quiet, secretive aspect of sadness about him in the slump of his shoulders as his gaze wandered off out their parlor window.  

    I remember just vaguely a whispered recounting of a later incident in which a grown-up R.B., who had become a drinking man, showed up back home and said something to the effect that he was gonna get some answers or else.  Not a story for general retelling;  I believe there may have been a gun involved.  

    On the whole, this has served to humanize everyone involved to me.  Let’s say that — just possibly — my grandparents had committed an “indiscretion” before they were legally married.  How, in the context of rural Texas circa 1915, in a culture of large extended families and strict religiously-based mores, would the family have chosen to deal with the situation?  If that is what happened, perhaps it was my Grandmother’s reaction that led her to become a member of the Holiness church, a group that loudly condemned all that they considered “worldly”, and to pretty much drag her husband along with her.  

    Grandpa apparently chose to be quiet, to work hard, to work with whatever the circumstances were:  when a fall off a power-line tower ended his career as a supervisor for an early electric power company, he used the settlement money to buy a few acres of land and start a chicken farm, which was what he was doing by the time I was born.  His utter silence on the matter of R.B. (as far as I know) for the rest of his life, speaks to me more of inner strength and commitment than anything he ever said. 

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      I like this and particularly the part where you describe him as when “inappropriate levity” lights his face while his grandmother tries to explain where R. B. came from.  

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Thank you; yes, he had a humor and a liveliness that always attracted me as a kid.

        Reply
    • Adam Smusch

      Wow.  This is awesome.  The tension between R.B. and his father, the vulnerabilities of raising a child due to an affair in Texas….  I would to see this in a longer format.  The part with R.B. and the gun, from a child’s perspective, would be so interesting.  The beginning had a great hook and the ending with the comparison of his “worldly” strength and  his commitment had a strong finish.  This was a great read.

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Thank you very much — this will be part of the memoir I’ve been working on, off and on, for years.  The whispering about  a gun sure got my ten-year-old attention!

        Reply
    • Brandon Rodgers

      “Grandpa apparently chose to be quiet, to work hard, to work with whatever the circumstances were” I’ve found this to be true from so many of that generation.  Well done.

      Reply
      • John Fisher

        Yes!  He worked harder than I’ll ever be able to.  Thank you.

        Reply
  14. Brandon Rodgers

    My grandfather suffered from emphysema the last years of his life.  By the time he entered the hospital for the final time he’d reached the point where breathing took every bit of energy he had.  As he lay in that hospital bed dying, his wife of more than 50 years fell in a hospital hallway, having suffered an apparent stroke. 
     
    At thirteen I didn’t understand much, but I recognized that my grandparents were teetering on the edge of death.  I walked into the room where my grandfather lay, his body laboring as he tried to pull in as much life-sustaining oxygen as he could. 
     
    I remembered all those times he had taken me fishing.  My parents would drop my brother and me off early in the morning.  My grandmother would already have breakfast on the table—made from scratch biscuits, eggs, maybe some sausage.  My grandfather would be sitting in his usual spot, sipping his coffee from the green mug he always used.  He would already be done with breakfast and working on the word search in the morning paper.  He always smelled faintly of tobacco and Old Spice aftershave.  That was my grandfather.
     
    My brother and I would quickly scarf down some breakfast, eager to get going.  If we were going fishing for catfish, my grandmother would’ve been to the store the day before to buy chicken liver.  Sometimes, especially when we were younger, my grandfather would take an old pair of my grandmother’s nylons and cut them into little squares.  He carefully cut the chicken liver into pieces, wrap up each piece in one of the nylon squares, and tie it closed with a piece of thread.  The chicken liver was slippery, and for a couple boys unskilled at fishing, it would often fly off the hook when we cast, but the nylon helped to keep it on the hook, and the catfish never seemed to mind.
     
    All those fishing trips flashed through my mind as I sat staring at my grandfather, who now lay wasting away.  When I was very young we’d gone to a little pond to fish.  The pond was in the middle of a cow pasture, and a bull wandered over, unhappy with us being on his territory.  I was terrified of the giant beast, but my grandfather punched it right on the nose and sent it running away.  But there he lay, with barely the strength to keep breathing.
     
    Everyone stepped out.  My grandfather and I sat alone in the semi-darkness of the hospital room.  The machines he was hooked to periodically beeped, but the only other sound was his breathing.  The telephone rang, startling me.  My grandmother, who was bed-bound as a result of her stroke, was calling from her hospital room to check on my grandfather.  The stroke had made speech difficult for her, and I struggled to understand, but I finally got it and let her know that he was okay.
     
    When I hung up the phone my grandfather gasped out, “Why didn’t you let me talk to her?”
     
    The answer was that he couldn’t understand her between her slurred speech and his poor hearing, and she couldn’t understand him, because he could barely speak.  He lay there, staring sadly at the ceiling.  Finally he whispered, “I don’t know when I’ll be able to talk to her again.”
     
    Sometime shortly after that, they wheeled my grandmother to my grandfather’s room.  They couldn’t speak to one another.  They lay in their respective hospital beds and just held hands.  They’d spent their lives together.  Through everything, good and bad, they’d stood together.  And at the end of their lives, when nothing more could be said, they simply held hands, together still.

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      It’s great that they were together at the end.  I felt heart broken when I read “I don’t know when I’ll talk to her again.”  I’m glad it ended like it did. Thanks 

      Reply
      • Brandon Rodgers

        That was over 20 years ago, and I still remember just how crushed I felt when he said that, and them lying there holding hands made a big impact on me–such a sad/sweet moment.  Thank you for taking the time to comment.

        Reply
    • John Fisher

      Simply told and with dignity.  Fine writing.

      Reply
      • Brandon Rodgers

        Thank you.

        Reply
    • Katherine

      Wow.  This is really powerful.  Thanks for sharing.  You really get a sense of their devotion to each other and the pain it must have caused to not be able to be together and speak when they needed each other most.  I’m glad they were able to be together and hold hands in the end.

      Reply
      • Brandon Rodgers

        Thank you so much.

        Reply
    • Cindy Christeson

      Oh Brandon, how sweet, how sad….but how loving to the end, holding hands.  Beautifully written, thank you.

      Reply
      • Brandon Rodgers

        Thank you. I’m pretty new around here. It has been very encouraging to get the positive feedback.

        Reply
    • Diana Trautwein

      Lovely, lovely, lovely. And what a legacy for our entire family. Thanks for this.

      Reply
      • Brandon Rodgers

        Thank you. It definitely has stuck with me over the years.

        Reply
    • Ernest

      wow man!! brilliant!! :->>

      Reply
    • Mirelba

       beautiful story.  thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       A beautiful story. 

      Reply
  15. kateoldkate

                When
    Paw Paw was around, it smelled like sweet cherry tobacco – the whole house did
    and the smell lingered, especially after a kiss.  He and Maw Maw visited once a year from their high-rise
    apartment in Puerto Rico. They lived there because Paw Paw worked for The
    Natural Gas Co.  But as a child, he
    was peripheral to Maw Maw.  Maw Maw
    who wore a jade heart necklace and was always tan.  She had a deep guttural laugh and spent the week that she
    stayed with us hugging us (her four granddaughters) and having us walk back and
    forth in the living room balancing books on our heads, practicing to be Miss
    America. Paw Paw was tall and quiet and made sure that Maw Maw was
    comfortable.  We didn’t know she
    was sick, no one did, but she was the kind of person you watched extra closely,
    always afraid they might go away, and life would not be the same without
    them.  So Paw Paw watched.  And laughed at Maw Maw’s jokes.  And drew cartoons for us, making us
    characters in the little pencil comic strips he drew. 

                I
    was ten when Maw Maw died.  The
    limo for the funeral picked Paw Paw up from our house.  I walked into the den and saw Paw Paw
    sobbing.  I was shoo-ed away by my
    uncle, for walking in on Paw Paw’s grief. 
    I still feel scolded when I think about that moment – it was my house
    and my Paw Paw. 

                Paw
    Paw lived 32 years beyond Maw Maw and I got to know him as an adult.  And I named my son for him and for my
    father.  He was an observer.  A watcher.  Of Maw Maw, of my sisters and I. 

                About
    ten years before he died, he sent me a thick envelope of drawings and letters I
    had written to him and Maw Maw over the years.  He saved pictures I drew before I could even write my name.  He said he sent it to me for me to show
    my children what a thoughtful child I had been to send him pictures and
    letters.  But the fact that he
    saved every letter and picture from each of his ten of his grandchildren says
    it all.  And when I opened the
    envelope, I saw more than the faded crayon self-portraits.  I’m pretty sure I could smell the sweet
    cherry tobacco.

    Reply
    • Katherine

      This is really touching.  I was particularly moved by the part about walking in on his grief.  There’s something powerful about someone as seemingly strong and powerful as a grandfather sobbing.  It’s also moving that you still feel scolded — is this because you feel bad for walking in on him, or you feel bad that you were scolded because you think you should have been welcome to walk in and comfort him?  I wasn’t sure how to read that part.  Thanks for sharing this.

      Reply
      • kateoldkate

        thanks for your comments – i still feel scolded because i thought i was part of the grief too, part of the comforting. 

        Reply
    • Ernest

      really touching… brilliantly crafted !! :->>

      Reply
  16. Katherine

    I never knew my father’s father.  He died just before my mother got pregnant with me, and since my parents were not intending to have children, he never expected I would exist.

    Growing up, everyone told me that my grandfather would have loved having a granddaughter.  He had raised two boys and had all male grandchildren until I came along, so a granddaughter would have been special.  When I heard this, I felt responsible for the fact that he never got to meet me — like it was my fault somehow.

    But I couldn’t understand why he would have been excited to have a granddaughter.  All my cousins on both sides we boys, and everyone loved them.  I was the strange one — the little girl who wanted to play with dolls, while all the boys went out to play football.  I couldn’t imagine that my grandfather would have wanted to play dolls with me.  Wouldn’t he have wanted to play football with the boys?

    My own dad was nothing like the man I heard people describe as my grandfather.  My father was more like his mother in looks and personality.  He was direct, said very little, and seemed emotionless, even though deep down I knew he felt things intensely.  He didn’t particularly like children and only tolerated me because I was his daughter.  I couldn’t imagine what my grandfather was like, since my own father seemed to have inherited so little of his personality.

    To this day, I look at photographs of my grandfather and can’t imagine him.  He looks like a stranger plopped into photos with other people I recognize.  What would he have sounded like?  What would he have done if we had the chance to be together?

    Reply
  17. Ellen

    If I had a grandpa, I may have learned. Grandpas in books are the silent guys. When they speak, they say something simple that cuts through everything. If I had a grandpa, he would be wise. He would smoke a pipe and wear a hat. My grandpa would shuffle about, muttering things barely audible that my grandma would translate. My grandpa would build things and fix things. He would mutter while doing those things too. My grandpa would have a funky old plaid chair and no one wold sit there but him. Books would be piled on all sides of his chair and he would peruse them, looking down through his bifocals at the end of his nose. He wouldn’t mutter here but nod his head in agreement or shake it in disgust. He would fold up the paper to do the crossword puzzle and occasionally ask for word assistance. No one would reply because we all know he knows the word. I would sit on my grandpa’s knee and he would tell me stories about when he was a kid. We would laugh and he would tickle me, but not too hard, and I would laugh and give him a big hug.

    Reply
    • CareyWriter

       I like your imaginary grandpa!  This is an imaginative response to this prompt.  I wish you had pursued it more, and I hope you do.  Best wishes.

      Reply
      • Ellen

        I don’t remember my grandpa. Thanks for responding. I had many more ideas after I quit. I always wondered how grandparents would impact my life

        Reply
  18. Cindy Christeson

     

    POP

    I think of Pop, and smile all the way to my childhood. I
    always knew I was adored by my mother’s dad, a man everybody loved, as
    evidenced by his many nicknames.  He
    responded to Byron, Dad, Pop, Popperoni, Uncle Genius, Skipper, and sometimes
    as Frazier, the name of a well-known, well loved lion at a nearby wild animal
    park.

     

    Pop taught by example and loved with his time.  Love of God and of country ran through his
    blood, and he teared up every Christmas when he sang Silent Night.  I stood taller those evenings at 5, when I
    could proudly help him lower the American flag from the towering flagpole on
    his dock.  We always folded it the exact
    same way, and I never questioned the silence while we did so.   

     

    Pop showed me to how to make drip castles in the sand and
    throw rocks in the ocean.  He taught me
    to row a boat and play a mean game of backgammon. There was never a shortage of
    time when I was with Pop, nor a lack of laughter to share. 

     

    He had a twinkle in his eyes when he spoke, and a rascal’s
    smile the moment both of us heard the sound that seemed to elude the others in
    the house. 

    It was the inviting song of the ice-cream truck getting
    closer, which caused my eyes to get wide, and Pop’s wider still.  He always had a logical sounding excuse for
    why he needed to suddenly check on a project in his workshop.  My grandmother never questioned him, nor me,
    when I said there was something I needed to go do as well.   I always thought we’d outsmarted her, but
    now that I’m a grandmother myself, I know better.  I’m sure she smiled to herself whenever Pop
    and I pretended to go our different ways.

     

    We always met up in his workshop, and snuck out a side door
    he assured me my grandmother wouldn’t hear. 
    Then we walked hand in hand down the block to the ice cream truck.  We always bought fudgsicles, chocolate being
    another of our shared connections.  We
    dripped chocolate and laughs all the way home, a tradition that makes me smile
    to this day.  Pop always checked my face
    for sticky evidence before we quietly rejoined my grandmother in the front
    porch.  There we’d play a game or two of
    backgammon or dominoes, winking at each other when my grandmother wasn’t
    looking.

     

    I can picture his smile, I can hear his hearty laugh, and I
    am warmed by the years of sweet memories wrapped around my life.   I miss you Pop.  Thank you for your love, thank you for your
    time.  Thank you for delighting in me, a delight
    that still rings deep in my soul.  That
    ice cream truck still rings in my memory too; it’s calling to me from years
    gone by.  I think it may just be time for
    a fudgsicle again.

     

     

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      He sounds like he was a wonderful man, sneaking out and eating fudgsicles.  I wonder if the grandmother knew what was going on.  Well done.  

      Reply
      • Ernest

        cool grandpa… well written!

        Reply
  19. Lisa Roberts

    Even with his pants worn up halfway over his belly and navel, my grandfather was a distinguished looking fellow.  One of my favorite pictures of he and my grandmother looks like a print from a movie set back in the 1950’s.  My grandmother is sitting on his lap in a black dress, the kind I remember Lucille Ball wearing on I Love Lucy,  beautifully tailored with an elaborate white ruffle that framed her face.  Her arm is around my grandfather, her mouth open as she smiles and gazes into my grandfathers eyes.  He is smiling back at her, his commanding profile showing off a beautifully sculpted Roman nose and one dark smoldering eye.  His elbow rests upon the arm of the sofa chair and in his hand is a burning cigarette much like the silhouette in the advertisement for my favorite show, Mad Men.

    The picture provides my only evidence of my grandfather’s smoking habit which he kicked when I was very young.  The memories I have of him are of a cheerful and gentle old man.  Not to say he didn’t have his fiery moments.  As a first generation Italian immigrant he had a conservative and unyielding opinion on just about everything and he was never shy about sharing them.  Flashes of passion or anger in the heat of a debate were the worst I ever saw of him, although I’ve been told that he had a sometimes violent temper as a younger man.  It was impossible for me to envision, this man who spent Sunday nights on the sofa watching Lawrence Welk or agonizing for minutes over each and every play in gin rummy game.  In my childlike experience he was slow and painstakingly thoughtful.   

    I was very close to him and I respected him immensely.  Although I was only 18 when he passed away, I knew enough to know he had seen and experienced more than I could possibly conceive of in my short life.  I was in awe of him, his capacity for learning and his seemingly bottomless knowledge.  He read voraciously, going to the library each week to research subjects that interested him, making notes and keeping them in neat piles on his meticulously organized desk.  He exercised regularly, with walks to the library and swims in his pool.  Even in his 70’s he made efforts to maintain his health diluting a glass of wine with water, for instance.  He was as handsome at 70 as he was in that picture.  One of my favorite memories is of him gliding through the pool like a graceful whale, holding his breath for two or three laps before quietly emerging without even a gasp.  When we’d swim together, he’d sink down to the bottom allowing me to climb aboard his shoulders, covered in silver hair, and then, holding my hands, slowly stand up to let me dive off.  

    I could only imagine him as handsome and strong and vivacious and so I was wholly unprepared for his appearance during his last hospitalization after a stroke.  His body was bloated and his pale face drooped, his mouth unable to form clear sentences.  Although he had moments of lucidity, he could not feed himself.  That week, I spent every day visiting with him, chatting and playing Benny Goodman big band classics to keep him company.  One afternoon I was there when his dinner came.  I realized I would need to feed him as his arms would not cooperate.  The small hospital spoon could barely hold more than a few drops of broth and he soon became frustrated with the soup dribbling down his face.  Seeing him struggle made me angry.  Though I couldn’t fix his heart or his arteries, there was one thing I could do.  I decided to run to Cost Plus to see about buying a Chinese style soup spoon.  I figured that would be a perfect solution and I promised him with a hug and a kiss that I would be back the next day to feed him his lunch.

    That night, while I slept on the couch of my grandmother’s house, I was awakened by the sound of the phone ringing.  I popped up and ran to the kitchen to pick up the receiver.  It was a nurse from the hospital calling.  My grandfather had passed.  When I hung up the phone my grandmother stood in front of me.  “Good,” she said stoically.  “he wouldn’t want to live like that.”  I never got to use that damned spoon.

    Reply
  20. Sheila Good

    Papa Vet would meet us very Sunday on the front porch. His hands in his overhauls, dirty and dusty from the cornfields he’d been plowing. His old felt hat shading his eyes from the sun. His skin dark and weathered. I have idea how papa was. He always looked ancient to me. But, he every Sunday me met us on the porch and handed me and my sisters a silver dollar. “Don’t spend all in one place he’d say.” He knew full well, our daddy would stop at the state line store on the home and we’d spend every dine on candy or some small what-not. 

    We spent Sunday’s at Grandpa’s running through files of corn, playing in the hen house, when I didn’t get caught, riding behind the tractor through the apple orchards or pestering him with questions as he followed slowly behind an old mule plowing. I still remember the water bucket and ladle that sat by the back porch and the handkerchief he pulled out of his pocket to wipe his brow before heading inside to the best Sunday dinner ever. He was a soft spoken gentle, hard working man. 

    Reply
  21. Sheila Good

    Joe,
    This was a special prompt for me. Thanks. Love your blog. I read it daily. I would like to nominate it for The Lovely Blog Award. Check out the details at my blog: ww.cowpasturechronicles.com/2012/09/the-lovely-blog-award.html

    Reply
  22. Bjhousewriter

    I know very little of my grandfather. What I know about him is he always seemso stern and struck. He was at least six feet tall. Every time he would hold me as a young child I would always cry. I was afraid of him.

    I think that all of his children and their families would do is gather around the big dinning room table. I remember that at Christmas time before we could open our presents we had to eat our dinner first. Then the dishes had to be done.

    One other memory I had of my grandfather was him sitting in his favorite chair in the living room with his deer head hanging on the wall above his. Next to him was the little spit tune container sitting on the floor. Soon we would see him spit out his tobacco.

    Reply
  23. Katie Axelson

    Grandpa and I sat on the patio chatting while Farmer Uncle cooked burgers. Grandma came out the back door with two drinks in her hand. We’ve learned the hard way that Grandma is not supposed to be the drink mix-er in their relationship.

    She set the two martini’s down on the glass-top table as Grandpa challenged her to chase the goose.

    Grandma shrugged, apparently one martini down, and approached the queen of the roost, Peepers the goose.

    Peepers honked but refused to move as Grandma ran at her.

    Within a few feet of the immobile goose, Grandma paused. She turned around and ran back towards Grandpa.

    Peepers too ran towards Grandpa.

    Grandma chases Peepers. Peepers chases Grandma.

    Armed with grill tongs, Farmer Uncle took over, put Peepers in her place, and rescued Grandma. Peepers moped away, Grandma slammed her second martini, and Farmer Uncle returned to his role as Chef.

    Grandpa and I rolled.

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      What a family, drinking martinis and chasing a goose named Peepers.  I love it. 
       

      Reply
    • Ernest

      beautiful!! :->

      Reply
  24. fab_kate

    For me, Velcro straps represented predictability, security and warmth, things all children crave. In the mornings during  summers and on holidays, the rip of Velcro straps being pulled apart on Pappaw’s walking shoes tore the shroud of dreams I slept behind, exposing me to the realm of reality and wakefulness, but it wasn’t a harsh jolt. Instead, the noise let me know I’d woken up, at least for that day, to a world that was right, a world that loved me, and I could keep my eyes closed, burrow down into my pillows and blankets, and groggily let Pappaw’s morning routine lull me back to sleep.  
    Years before I was born, my mother encouraged Pappaw to start walking at the mall in the mornings to help rebuild the muscle in his heart following an emergency open-heart surgery that was prompted by a lifetime of inhaling two packs a day. Now I was a young girl, my mother was dead, but Pappaw’s mall-walking habit lived on, and without fail, I’d hear him from the front bedroom just off the den as he sat down on the fireplace hearth and strapped on his navy Velcro walking shoes he’d set out the night before.
    There’d be the stray morning that would come along when I’d get the impulse to join him and would pull myself out of bed, and we walked the mall together. Just like the routine with his Velcro shoes, he had a route laid out that he stuck to precisely, and we’d make that same loop three or four times. I always liked to see Pappaw’s good humor and friendliness as we passed other mall walkers. He’d see these same people day in, day out and they’d always exchange greetings and smiles and Pappaw was unflappable; I don’t remember him ever having a grumpy morning, and for that matter, I can’t recall a time when I ran an errands with him where he didn’t greet people around town with a laugh, a smile, a mischievous glint in his eye, always ready to unpack a story to anyone who would listen. When I’d call the house, he’d pull the phone off the wall in the kitchen, the one closest to his recliner and the only one that wasn’t updated to include Caller ID, and even though he didn’t know who was calling, he didn’t care.
    “Jake’s Mule Barn,” he’d say into the receiver, and I could hear the lopsided smile in his voice. “Jake speaking.” Then he’d unfurl a rich, rough laugh from deep into his belly into his throat, and when that was the person who thought I hung the moon, all I could ever feel around him was comfort and peace, and those were feelings that didn’t exist in my own home, so I clung to them forcefully and allowed Pappaw and Mimi’s unconditional love to carry me into adulthood without the hard, jagged edges that could have easily formed otherwise.
    Most mornings, I didn’t go with Pappaw to the mall. I stayed in bed and slept, and then I’d hear him come home and his routine would continue. He’d sit back down on the hearth, next to his cowboys boots he’d also set out the night before. My entire life, Pappaw only wore two types of shoes: Velcro walking shoes and cowboy boots, and even though he’d spend most of his time in front of the TV, he’d always do it with boots on, and would even kick up the recliner in the afternoon and nap with his feet snugly wrapped in leather.
    After the footwear was taken care of, I’d hear the newspaper unfold and snap open, and then it was still and quiet again until Pappaw’s laugh broke the air when he came across the funnies or something that struck him the right way in one of the articles. He found human people to quite often be ridiculous, so it wasn’t unusual for something in one of the articles to make him chuckle incredulously at human behavior.
    Sometime during his newspaper read, I’d finally rouse myself and plod into the den.
    “Good morning, sweetheart,” he’d say as he lowered the paper. Then he’d fix us both breakfast. There wasn’t room for variation in this, either. He couldn’t eat gluten, so he would smear peanut butter onto a rice cake and take bites of that in between spoonfuls of Cheerios and banana slices dripping with milk. The only time in my life I ate rice cakes was with Pappaw, but of course I wanted to do what he was doing. He’d use a rice cake at lunch in place of sandwich bread. He’d lay bologna, mustard, and cheese from a cellophane wrapper atop the rice cake, call it a dog and cheese sandwich, and bite into it.

    Reply
  25. Diana Trautwein

    If you want to glimpse the soul of a man, watch how he interacts with his grandchildren. 

    I had a grandfather who delighted in terrifying his grandkids, removing his dentures and chasing us around the yard, making them go clickety-clack in his hand while grinning at us with his gums. 

    He had little use for children, even though he and my grandmother owned and operated two nursery schools. Grampa had a troubled childhood, a wandering young adulthood, marrying my grandmother when he was 30 and she was 18. 

    They had four children in four years, traveled by train from British Columbia to Los Angeles and squeaked out a living, even managing to save money, one dime at a time. 

    But then, he would get the itch, grab all the money in the kitty and invest it in margin calls for very tenuous stocks. This was in the 1920’s and 30’s and when the inevitable happened, and the family lost everything, he would drown his sorrows in alcohol, staggering home and getting sick all over the kitchen floor.My mother was the designated clean-up crew, from the age of six until she married at age 20. Grampa’s soul was dark and difficult.My father’s father was aloof, highly intelligent and prone to long depressive episodes. But Pa also kept a stash of lemon drops in his vest pocket and whenever we visited, he would hand them out to my brother and me. There was a twinkle in his eye that intrigued me and I was sad when he died of throat cancer when I was six. Pa’s soul was troubled but had a twinkle of light.My father was intrigued by his grandchildren, enjoying their unique personalities and often playing games and watching quirky television shows with them. He was a quiet man, intellectual, musical and underneath it all, funny as hell. He encouraged each of his five grandkids to become all the good things that he saw in them, just as he had his children. And he was a great – although quiet – cheerleader. Poppa’s soul was rich and deep and full of surprises.My husband is the best grandfather I have ever known. He gets down on the floor with the littlest, playing tea party, legos, doctor and dress-up. He reads aloud, engages in make-believe and endures Monopoly marathons with the older ones. His entire being springs into life when we are together as a family. And he knows what is going on in the life of each one of our eight. His soul is happy, healthy and filled with light. Just ask our grandkids.

    Reply
  26. SugarRos

    Version:1.0
    StartHTML:0000000105
    EndHTML:0000005612
    StartFragment:0000002295
    EndFragment:0000005576

    My grandfather was a God in my eyes.

     

    There are certain ways that I saw adults when I was a
    kid.  To me, my grandfather was
    extremely God-like.  His face was
    tough and wrinkled and brown, like old leather, and I used to sit on his lap
    and run my finger across the creases in his forehead and cheeks.  He would smile down at me, and the
    absolute kindness would just radiate out of him.  He was handsome and tall, with soft eyes and peppered hair
    and giant ears that both me and my brother adopted from him.

     

    He was my favorite grandparent because he was quiet.  I never heard him yell or raise his
    voice, and his face was always the picture of serene.  He was a sharp, calming contrast to my grandmother who was
    always screaming about something or other.  But the thing that I remember the most about him, the thing
    that stick out clearest in my mind is the smell of Marlboro cigarettes.  My parents didn’t smoke, and they made
    sure I was never around it, and I only saw grandpa with a cigarette a couple of
    times, but that smell clung to him like cologne.

     

    I loved that smell.

     

    He had this chair, this certain chair that sat in the corner
    of the family room that he always sat in. 
    That was his chair – grandpa’s chair, and it was big and soft and
    smelled just like him.  I used to
    climb up into his lap and curl up next to him and inhale the lovely scent of Marlboros.  The smell was calming to me.  I fell asleep there in his lap, in that
    chair more times than I can possibly remember.

     

    The thing about my family is that we’re not very close.  I lived very far away from my
    grandparents from the time I was ten until I turned 26, and by then my grandpa
    was long gone.  When I finally
    moved back and I stepped inside my grandmothers house, which hadn’t changed in
    all those years, I nearly cried. 
    My grandpas’ chair was right where it had always been.  It hadn’t moved.  When I walked over to sit down and I
    breathed in, that smell was still there, keeping him alive in my memories….

     

    Reply
  27. fab_kate

    For me, Velcro straps represented predictability, security and warmth, things all children crave. In the mornings during  summers and on holidays, the rip of Velcro straps being pulled apart on Pappaw’s walking shoes tore the shroud of dreams I slept behind, exposing me to the realm of reality and wakefulness, but it wasn’t a harsh jolt. Instead, the noise let me know I’d woken up, at least for that day, to a world that was right, a world that loved me, and I could keep my eyes closed, burrow down into my pillows and blankets, and groggily let Pappaw’s morning routine lull me back to sleep.  
    Years before I was born, my mother encouraged Pappaw to start walking at the mall in the mornings to help rebuild the muscle in his heart following an emergency open-heart surgery that was prompted by a lifetime of inhaling two packs a day. Now I was a young girl, my mother was dead, but Pappaw’s mall-walking habit lived on, and without fail, I’d hear him from the front bedroom just off the den as he sat down on the fireplace hearth and strapped on his navy Velcro walking shoes he’d set out the night before.
    There’d be the stray morning that would come along when I’d get the impulse to join him and would pull myself out of bed, and we walked the mall together. Just like the routine with his Velcro shoes, he had a route laid out that he stuck to precisely, and we’d make that same loop three or four times. I always liked to see Pappaw’s good humor and friendliness as we passed other mall walkers. He’d see these same people day in, day out and they’d always exchange greetings and smiles and Pappaw was unflappable; I don’t remember him ever having a grumpy morning, and for that matter, I can’t recall a time when I ran an errands with him where he didn’t greet people around town with a laugh, a smile, a mischievous glint in his eye, always ready to unpack a story to anyone who would listen. When I’d call the house, he’d pull the phone off the wall in the kitchen, the one closest to his recliner and the only one that wasn’t updated to include Caller ID, and even though he didn’t know who was calling, he didn’t care.
    “Jake’s Mule Barn,” he’d say into the receiver, and I could hear the lopsided smile in his voice. “Jake speaking.” Then he’d unfurl a rich, rough laugh from deep into his belly into his throat, and when that was the person who thought I hung the moon, all I could ever feel around him was comfort and peace, and those were feelings that didn’t exist in my own home, so I clung to them forcefully and allowed Pappaw and Mimi’s unconditional love to carry me into adulthood without the hard, jagged edges that could have easily formed otherwise.
    Most mornings, I didn’t go with Pappaw to the mall. I stayed in bed and slept, and then I’d hear him come home and his routine would continue. He’d sit back down on the hearth, next to his cowboys boots he’d also set out the night before, unstrap the navy Velcros, and tug on his beloved boots. My entire life, Pappaw only wore two types of shoes: Velcro walking shoes and cowboy boots, and even though he’d spend most of his time in front of the TV, he’d always do it with boots on, and would even kick up the recliner in the afternoon and nap with his feet snugly wrapped in leather.
    After the footwear was taken care of, I’d hear the newspaper unfold and snap open, and then it was still and quiet again until Pappaw’s laugh broke the air when he came across the funnies or something that struck him the right way in one of the articles.
     Sometime during his newspaper read, I’d finally rouse myself and plod into the den.
    “Good morning, sweetheart,” he’d say as he lowered the paper. Then he’d fix us both breakfast. There wasn’t room for variation in this, either. He couldn’t eat gluten, so he would smear peanut butter onto a rice cake and take bites of that in between spoonfuls of Cheerios and banana slices dripping with milk. The only time in my life I ate rice cakes was with Pappaw, but of course I wanted to do what he was doing. He’d use a rice cake at lunch in place of sandwich bread. He’d lay bologna, mustard, and cheese from a cellophane wrapper atop the rice cake, call it a dog and cheese sandwich, and bite into it.
    Sometimes I would sit next to Pappaw and ask him to show me his arm. He’d roll his button-down shirt up to his tanned bicep, leathery from his years of work on a farm in Idalou, Texas, and he’d show me the soft canyon above his elbow where Japanese ammunition hit him in the Phillipines. As I touched the crater in his arm, my mind tried to open up wide enough to grasp the thought of my Pappaw not only being shot,  but  also shooting others. The bullet had struck Pappaw’s tendons and nerves and had permanently left his pinkie and ring finger curled up, numb and lifeless on his left hand. As I grew up I learned how he’s worked his way onto the Lubbock Fire Department despite his handicap, and had doubled with tractor work on his days off, and my admiration for him only grew.
    As I said goodbye to him in his casket when I was 21, I glanced down at his folded hands, and saw the folded fingers one last time, and I pressed my own hand to his as I silently told him all that he’d meant to my life.

    Reply
  28. Puffy

    Whenever I hear people say that senior citizens don’t like using newfangled tech like laptops and cellphones, I can’t help but laugh.

    My grandfather likes to sit on the dusty lime green couch in his house’s living room, with his paperwork, iPhone, and a laptop spread all over the cushions. He never liked cleaning up, so often he would have to brush paper cups and candy wrappers and even cobwebs off the sofa in order to sit down and enjoy an episode of CSI Miami.

    Grandad is so kooky, he can be the main character of a Roald Dahl book.

    He likes wearing ties out of tinfoil, and his shoes are often either bright pink or in orange and white stripes. His glasses’ lens are star-shaped, and his iPhone is always jutting out of his pants pocket. He hates golf, chess, and other “old man sports,” as he calls them. (Isn’t it ironic that he’s 86?)

    During Christmas, a gift Grandad would like the most is something techy; a Samsung Galaxy Y, an iPad, a flat screen TV, or a set of fifteen rainbow-colored USB drives. He’ll use them to write his short stories (mostly about Twinkle Periwinkle, an elf girl he modeled after me), play Plants vs. Zombies with, or to download his favorite iCarly episodes.

    Grandad’s house is just as quirky as he is. Since Granmom is in Japan with Aunt Alberona, Grandad can do whatever he wants with it. He turned the stairs into a canary yellow slide! How does one get to the second floor, then? You pull out a piece of wood from the ceiling, and down will drop a rope ladder. My favorite part of the house, though, is the chandelier in Grandad’s room. It’s made of sparkly glass beads, with wooden figurines of Twinkle Periwinkle and her brothers Zap Zap and SushiBoy (modeled after my own brothers, of course) he carved hanging at the sides.

    What I love the most about Grandad, though, is he is unbelievably cheerful. When he heard that Granmom had to evacuate after the earthquake that hit Japan, he simply said, “Elissa was always a tough girl. That’s why my marriage ruined me :D. Let’s send Granmom some stay-happy cookies, and let’s draw her a card of Twinkle Periwinkle banishing the evil Mr. Earthquake, okay?”

    Reply
  29. Suzie Gallagher

    Thank you all for your beautiful comments, this man is not real. One of my grandads kept stilton on his desk where he saw patients until the maggots came and then ate it in front of people for shock value. The other one was quiet, quietly out of the way of my grandma and quietly, softly having affairs around town.
    This piece though, I need your help, I am showing not telling, leaving chunks of ether for the reader to grasp and “get” the real meaning. Obviously I am doing it wrong because you all are calling him lovely. Am I too subtle, or just missing the mark completely? What am I doing wrong (this is not the first time that my subtext has been ignored) that the insidious nature of abusers is not seen but only the cheerful pretend self.

    “We loved with a passion” “we don’t speak ill of the dead in Ireland” “in the shed here no one would find us” “floating above images I didn’t understand”

    For example “my memoir” or my testimony reads – I met love when I was two years old.

    Personally I think this means I met a mighty unconditional love at two but before that there was no love, this opens it up for the listener to put their own take on it without me having to explain how I came to be in that position. Am I wrong? Have I lost the plot completely.

     

    Reply
  30. Ernest

    Much like the many pious men that dot the earth, my grandfather was ever wiling to spread the ideals of his religion among his fellow men. He spent most of his adult life toiling hard to provide a better future for my father, and he as puts it, God was with him at every corner; be it the worst of eventualities or the best of breakthroughs. Throughout the years, a rosary has been his constant companion on which he chants His name indefinitely. When the time came he tried teaching me his ideals. But I, like any modern man, scoffed at such foolishness and blind beliefs. I never meant to disrespect him but he was so attached to his God that any insult to Him was one hurled at him. As time flew my life went on and he became one of many relatives who you meet just once a year and barely ever talk to. 

    He left to live with his God many years ago. I was at his funeral and it was there that I stated contemplating on the things he tried to teach me as a child. It didn’t take long for the profound depth and eternal beauty of his lessons to sink in. Looking at me now you would notice my right hand always comfortably tucked into my right hand trouser pocket counting the beads of the rosary, one which belonged to my grandfather. In the most stressful situations I slide my hand into my pocket and chant His name in my mind, with the treasured memory of my grandpa sitting on a chair besides the fire, rosary in hand and a placid yet mysterious smile on his face.

    Reply
    • Suzie Gallagher

      Ernest, I like it, my husband is Catholic and my kids all have rosary beads. Isn’t it amazing how a funeral of a person can bring faith of many to the fore

      Reply
      • Ernest

        absolutely… funerals have some kind of indescribable yet powerful energy, i guess…

        thanks a lot for reading!!!

        Reply
    • Zoe Beech

      I love the image of you with your hand in your pocket counting the beads of the rosary – beautifully mirrors your grandfather sitting by the fire, and says so much about what you learnt from him…

      Reply
      • Ernest

        appreciate it. thanks for reading!!

        Reply
    • Mirelba

       Beautiful tribute.  The second paragraph really flows well. I find that many times in these exercises, the first paragraph is hesitant, and then we find the flow and get into stride so that we end better than we begin.

      Reply
      • Ernest

        I’ll try to work on that… thanks for the invaluable input !!

        Reply
        • Mirelba

          Welcome, glad to help.

          Reply
          • Ernest

            !!

  31. Liz Breen

    “She’ll be okay,” the old man said, not taking his eyes off
    the road. Lucas noted that his grandfather’s voice sounded less than
    convincing, but he was too tired to linger on it.

     

    “Yeah. I know,” Lucas replied.

     

    Lucas stared at his grandfather for a moment — steady behind
    the wheel, hands distinctly positioned at 10 and 2. In his grandfather’s deep
    brown eyes, Lucas could see his own. And his mother’s. His grandfather turned,
    feeling Lucas’s gaze. Lucas quickly averted his eyes and blushed.

     

    “I know, you haven’t seen me in a while,” the man remarked.
    Lucas just shrugged, but in fact, that moment felt like the first time he had
    ever really looked at his grandfather. “I really meant to visit earlier. Your
    mom also told me you two might come down to Florida so… I guess I’m just saying
    I wish I could’ve seen you under different circumstances.”

     

    Lucas opened his mouth to say something, but no words came
    out. He resolved to counting the rapidly passing streetlights. 1, 2, 3, 4… 35,
    36, 37…. His grandfather’s firm hand on the back of his neck snapped him out of
    his trance. It was rough and certainly the largest hand he had ever felt.  His grandfather flashed him a tired
    smile. Lucas returned the gesture.

     

    They pulled into the driveway. The house was dark. Lucas led
    the way up the sidewalk, fumbling for the key in his pocket. The sound of lock
    turning echoed throughout the empty hallways, causing Lucas to shudder. The two
    took off their shoes, an homage to the absent family member, and exchanged
    side glances as if to say, “What now?”

     

    It was the old man who spoke first. “You hungry?” The boy
    nodded. He was starving. “Good because I make a mean grilled cheese. Want to
    help?’

     

    They made their way into the kitchen and silently rummaged
    through drawers, assembling pans, bread, cheese. They stood side-by-side,
    leaned against the counter almost identically, listening to the butter crackle
    and buckle under the heat of the stove.

     

    “Hey, Gramps?”

     

    “Yeah, bud?”

     

    “If Mom dies—“

     

    “She won’t!” his grandfather replied unflinchingly.

     

    “I know. But if she does, can you stay?”

    His grandfather’s large, coarse hand providing a firm squeeze on his
    shoulder was the only answer Lucas needed. 

    Reply
    • Mirelba

       Nice story!  Hope his mom makes it…

      Reply
  32. Liz Breen

    “She’ll be okay,” the old man said, not taking his eyes off
    the road. Lucas noted that his grandfather’s voice sounded less than
    convincing, but he was too tired to linger on it.

    “Yeah. I know,” Lucas replied.

    Lucas stared at his grandfather for a moment. Steady behind
    the wheel, hands distinctly positioned at 10 and 2. In his grandfather’s deep
    brown eyes, Lucas could see his own. And his mother’s. His grandfather turned,
    feeling Lucas’s gaze. Lucas quickly averted his eyes and blushed.

    “I know, you haven’t seen me in a while,” the man remarked.
    Lucas just shrugged, but in fact, that moment felt like the first time he had
    ever really looked at his grandfather. “I really meant to visit earlier. Your
    mom also told me you two might come down to Florida so… I guess I’m just saying
    I wish I could’ve seen you under different circumstances.”

    Lucas opened his mouth to say something, but no words came
    out. He resolved to counting the rapidly passing streetlights. 1, 2, 3, 4… 35,
    36, 37…. His grandfather’s firm hand on the back of his neck snapped him out of
    his trance. It was rough and certainly the largest hand he had ever felt.  His grandfather flashed him a tired
    smile. Lucas returned the gesture.

    They pulled into the driveway. The house was dark. Lucas led
    the way up the sidewalk, fumbling for the key in his pocket. The sound of lock
    turning echoed throughout the empty hallways, causing Lucas to shudder The two
    took off their shoes, an homage to their missing family member, and exchanged
    side glances as if to say, “What now?”

    It was the old man who spoke first. “You hungry?” The boy
    nodded. He was starving. “Good because I make a mean grilled cheese. Want to
    help?”

    They made their way into the kitchen and silently rummaged
    through drawers, assembling pans, bread, cheese. They stood side by side,
    leaned against the counter almost identically, listening to the butter crackle
    and buckle under the heat of the stove.

    “Hey, Gramps?”

    “Yeah, bud?”

    “If Mom dies—“

    “She won’t!” his grandfather replied unflinchingly.

    “I know. But if she does, can you stay?”

    His grandfather’s large, coarse hand clapping down on his
    shoulder was the only answer Lucas needed. 

    Reply
  33. Iridescentsuns

    My grandfather died when I was three years old. The memories I have of him are few, but cherished. I used to recall a lot more, however, in time, my moments with him faded away, just like an old painting. Sometimes, when it’s really cold outside and I get cozy with a cup of orange tea, I return to the winter of my third year. 

    It’s Christmas. I’m in my bed, wrapped in covers while grandpa is sitting at the table peeling an orange for me. I gulp the small bits of the fruit, as he hands them to me.  After I’m done with all of them, I press my hands to my face, trying to hold on to the sweet-soury smell. He looks at me with such a serene face, then he caresses my forehead and starts laughing. 

    The sight of me, sticking my little fingers in front of my nose was probably quite funny. If only I could remember the sound of his laughter. I can still recall the look on his face, but just as a part of a mute film. A film that smells like orange.  

    Reply
    • Katie Axelson

      This is great! I can’t imagine a better sound to remember someone by than his laughter.

      Reply
    • Ernest

      incredible!

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       I like how you have tied the drink of orange tea to the memory of the smell of orange at that particular place and time.  Well done.

      Reply
  34. emd04

    When I was a kid, my grandpa used to play “guess the instrument” with me and my little brother. After dinner, he’d tune up the stereo, which had some orchestral recording on it, and we’d begin to listen. Every few minutes–usually when there was a solo piece–he’d ask us what instrument it was. 

    Most of the time, we got it right, amazing given that some of our answers were pure guesses. I remember once I said “French horn,” and got it right. My grandpa was impressed, but I was impressed I’d managed to pull that instrument, which I’d never heard before, out of thin air.

    Music was what we did, on my mom’s side of the family. Grandpa was a music teacher and a trumpeter, who played at receptions and other events around Pittsburgh to supplement his music teacher’s salary. Grandma was a crack piano player, and all of the kids–all eight of them–played at least one instrument. My mom played the flute, like a lot of her sisters.  My brother inherited my grandpa’s trumpet. I was a clarinetist, until I realized I didn’t want to do marching band in high school, and then I switched to voice, which was my true love anyway. My grandparents sang in their church choir, as well, so I continued the family tradition of alto power. 

    Grandpa–we called him “Pa”–never learned to play the piano properly. I never did either. But he had perfect pitch and tuned pianos beautifully, with care and attention, as a good tuner should. He would look at some of my musical theater scores, with their crazy key signatures–all sharps and all flats–and say, “what kind of key signature is that?!” Looking at my honors band music one year, he said, “too much black”–meaning, too many fast notes on the page. He wrote music for elementary and middle school bands, so there wasn’t too much black on those pages, and probably never sixteenth or thirty-second notes. (NEVER sixty-forth notes. Never.) 

    Besides the music, he had an imitable sense of humor, especially when it involved wordplay. He loved jokes and  puns. The only ride he would ride at Kennywood, the local amusement part, was the Restaurant; Eat ‘n Park was “Peak and Art”; “The Price is Right” was “The Price is Wrong.” He was also a talented artist, which he passed down to my brother, not me. I can’t draw at all. 

    He had eight kids, and 25 grandkids, when he died a few years ago. He worried a LOT about out safety. In the basement was a set of bunk beds, which me and my younger cousins loved to play on and around–sliding off the top bunk and leaping back on to it was a favorite game. He would freak out if he caught us doing this. But we knew, even as little kids, he wasn’t trying to be a killjoy. He just didn’t want us bashing our heads in. So often my cousin Diane and I would just play with our Barbies on the top bunk, and eschew any leaping off of it. 

    At holiday celebrations, he was the benevolent Emperor–carving the turkey with panache, being Santa Claus at the annual gift exchange (complete with Santa hat), passing out chocolates on Easter. My uncles take turns doing this now, but it’s not the same.

    He jingled when he walked, because he kept tic-tacs in his pockets, usually orange ones. As a kid, I would beg him to give me some, and he usually complied. 

    I think I probably got some, or most, of my acting ability from him. He did womnderful character voices and had the best facial expressions. He was an expert in getting a laugh. He could be serious when talking about church or politics, but around kids, he was a merry prankster, sort of Shakespearian in his personality (think of Shakespeare’s funny characters, not the tragic heroes. Pa was many things, but not tragic.)  Anger ignited around football season; watching the Steelers or Notre Dame foul up a game led to many bad words. He went with me and my dad to my first Penguin game, and eventually we got him on the hockey bandwagon. Baseball, too, was a love, even though the Pirates had been letting him down fairly regularly in the past few years.

    His hair was dark, but whitened with age, but he never lost it. The babies loved to play with it. He always dressed well, in neatly pressed and hemmed slacks, a long-sleeved shirt or polo, and in the winter a sweater or a sweater vest. 

    He and my grandma were incredibly supportive, coming to concerts, recitals, talent shows, and my theater performances. They loved music in almost all forms (forget the rock and rap and all that), so they, unlike my brother and my dad, loved sitting through Verdi’s Requiem, or a long choir concert, just as much as attending a band concert. With so many grandkids scattered through several states, it was amazing they were such a big part of our lives. They never missed graduation parties, sacraments, or, even, my college concerts. 

    I feel bad that my youngest cousin will never remember him like I do, but I know how lucky I am to have had him for 28 years. He influences my life in more ways than I can count. 

    Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       An insightful memoir.  I particularly liked “(NEVER sixty-forth notes.  Never.)” 

      Reply
  35. Iridescentsuns

    My grandfather died when I was three years old. The memories I have of him are few, but cherished. I used to recall a lot more, however, in time, my moments with him faded away, just like an old painting. Sometimes, when it’s really cold outside and I get cozy with a cup of orange tea, I return to the winter of my third year. 

    It’s Christmas. I’m in my bed, wrapped in covers while grandpa is sitting at the table peeling an orange for me. I gulp the small bits of the fruit, as he hands them to me, and, after I’m done with all of them, I press my hands to my face, trying to hold on to the sweet-soury smell. He looks at with such a serene face, then he caresses my forehead and starts laughing. 

    The sight of me, sticking my little fingers in front of my nose was probably quite funny. If only I could remember the sound of his laughter. I can still recall the look on his face, but just as a part of a mute film. A film that smells like orange.  

    Reply
  36. CareyWriter

    My grandfather, David, grew up in the last fifteen years of
    his life. 

     

    He was born and raised in a very narrow, harshly religious
    (Protestant) family in a small town in Oklahoma.  Gender roles were very rigid, and Grandpa
    David tried to do right by his heritage and family and live the emotionally
    disconnected life of a Good Provider.  He
    got a trade (linotype operator), married a good woman, moved to an exciting
    city to start his own company, and fathered three children, whom he ignored
    except for the occasional lecture.

     

    When he was 70, his wife’s dementia could no longer be
    ignored.  She no longer kept house or
    even herself.  She rambled, verbally and
    physically.  He had to keep the house and
    a close eye on her.  And then the family
    business, which had been sold to his two sons, collapsed and the sons
    decamped.  His daughter moved in with her
    husband and two sons, but not to take care of her parents.  She took care of the business, and my
    grandfather became a housewife, assuming all household chores, including
    cooking, and managing his demented spouse and two seemingly demented
    toddlers.  Eventually he had to
    institutionalize my grandmother, and then he juggled two types of homes.

     

    Despite my aunt’s best efforts, the business could not be
    saved and came to a humiliating end, being sold for parts to pay the IRS.  The house was lost.  My grandmother died.  My aunt decamped back to Colorado, leaving my
    grandfather adrift and bereft.

     

    Which is when my uncle announced that he was gay, had AIDS,
    and was dying.  My grandfather set up
    (small) house with his son.  He struggled
    to reconcile his strict religious upbringing with the facts staring him
    straight in the face.  He decided to
    adopt a hate-the-sin, love-the-sinner approach. 
    But the love he felt for his sinning son and all his charming friends
    soon completely overwhelmed even this fragile defense.

     

    He didn’t feel like this was an accomplishment, though.  “How could I live so long and know so
    little,” he nearly sobbed to me.  His
    entire world was upended, and all he felt was disoriented.  I hope my protestations of pride and
    admiration made a dent in his despair.  I
    know he held his head high at my uncle’s funeral and accepted the sincere
    condolences of my uncles many gay friends with heartfelt grace.

     

    Three months after his son’s death, my grandfather felt a
    sharp pain in his head, the worst he ever felt. 
    When the cancer diagnosis followed, he dissolved into fear.  All the religious demons of his childhood
    started screaming through his brain.  “I
    have been a bad Christian,” he whispered to me in horror.  “I am going to hell, and I will never see you
    again.”  He could not be comforted.  He sought treatment after treatment to
    postpone the inevitable, but he lasted only nine months.  Nearly a year to the day after his son’s
    death, at age 85, he was laid to rest in the same cemetery.

     

    I am certain he rests in glory.  The end of his life was one he could never
    have imagined.  He saw it as only chaos
    and himself whipped helplessly around in the maelstrom.  But the grandfather who finally left this
    world was a much warmer and fuller human being than the stiff guy who raised my
    father and presided over the sterile Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood.  Rest in PEACE, Grandfather David.  You gave it, and you earned it.
     

    Reply
    • Mirelba

       Wow, all these warm family tributes.  Beautiful!

      Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       this is a wonderful story, and left me teary-eyed.  You have captured the complications and vicissitudes of family life from just one perspective very well. 

      Reply
  37. June Perkins

    I was inspired by this prompt..

    You can read my full response here
    http://wp.me/pVzr-12P

    Here is just an extract..

    After this visit, letters flowed from my grandmum and she would tell
    me how granddad was.  They were always decorated with pictures made from
    leaves and plants.  And when I was fourteen years old, after years of
    letters and birthday cards with one or two dollars in them, I went to
    New Zealand with my Dad and spent a couple of weeks with my
    grandparents.

    My memories of my granddad then are much stronger. 
    He wore a plaid hat, and took us to see a Maori lady who he learnt the
    language from. She took us to a Maori meeting house.  This was my first
    trip away from Australia since moving there as a baby.  I am not sure
    why I was the chosen grandchild to visit.  Perhaps it was because I
    wrote back to every letter from my grandmother and became the voice of
    my family to them.
    Granddad loved his pet dogs and his garden. 
    Sometimes my grandmum would send me pictures of him with the dogs or
    busy at work in his beloved garden.  I enjoyed being in New Zealand
    meeting with them.  We went to the beach house and walked along the sand
    with their racing dogs and one of my uncles who lived with them.
    I
    noticed them gently chiding my Dad and that Granddad liked to make wine
    (my Dad doesn’t drink) and they asked my Dad if he would try some, to
    which he politely said ‘no.’ I wrote postcards home.

    My
    grandparents know how much I liked to write, and they gave me a very
    special present after this New Zealand trip.  It was a red typewriter to
    write books one day.When I went home I began to type letters to them,
    and send them poetry.  The next time I saw my grandad, he looked over
    some of my poetry  that I excitedly grabbed from my room to show him,
    and said I had real talent. I was filled with so much happiness after
    that comment and it added to my determination to be a writer.

    Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       Hi June, I enjoyed your memoir of your grandparents and your childhood trip to NZ, and the acknowledgement that life can be complicated for adults but often very straightforward for children.  I checked out your website as I live south of you, near the Whitsundays. Good site also!

      Reply
  38. Mirelba

    My grandfather was a man of contrasts.  Frail and sickly as I remember him—attributed
    to his whispered experiences from two World Wars—he still stood tall, like the
    ex-veteran of the Austro-Hungarian army that he was.  Due to his taciturn nature, we know nothing about
    his pre-marriage experiences, other than the fact that his many years as a POW
    in Russia—further lengthened by the outbreak of the Communist Revolution—instilled
    in him a deep distrust of communism and a longing for the dream of democracy
    and opportunity that was America.  His
    father insisted that none of his children leave for America so long as he was
    alive, and so my grandfather was trapped with his wife and sons in yet another
    World War, which they survived only through the grace of God.

    I remember him as frail and sickly, and yet the picture
    seared most clearly in my mind, is the one of him standing tall, indomitable, invincible,
    rifle over his shoulder, a WWII partisan in the forests of Eastern Europe.  And yet he was such a small man.

    He was an upright and independent man whose home and pocket
    were open to those in need, but was himself unwilling to accept favors from
    others.  He paid his way and was careful
    to repay any favor at least four-fold.

    He was quietly devoted to my outgoing, fun-loving
    grandmother, his two sons, daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren.  My grandfather treated his wife and
    daughters-in-law and everyone he came into contact with, with a courtly
    respect.  All these years later and
    people I meet still speak of my grandfather with voices full of awe and
    respect, much the way I viewed him.

    When I was little, my older brother came home from school one
    day, all full of himself and his new knowledge. “Do you know what I learned
    today?”  Of course I didn’t, but he
    soon filled me in.   “We learned
    that the Messiah will be a descendant of King David, born on Tisha B’Av (the
    day of mourning for the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem) and named
    Menachem.”  I could feel my eyes
    growing round as those of Winnie’s friend Owl. 
    According to our family tradition, my grandfather was descended from the
    House of David, and his name was Menachem. 
     Although his birthday was one
    month early, I was convinced that my dignified and learned grandfather was The
    One.  From that time onward, I always
    viewed him with tinted glasses, the lenses thoroughly coated with the greatest
    respect and awe.

    Every year before the fast of Yom Kippur, we would visit my grandfather
    to receive a blessing for the New Year. 
    He would gather his strength to rise from his day bed to stand, gently
    cupping our heads with his frail hands letting them rest lightly there as he
    blessed us for the New Year with the ancient words with which his father and
    grandfather had blessed him and been blessed throughout the generations.  The experience had far greater significance
    for me after my brother’s ‘revelation’, so much so that all these years later,
    as Yom Kippur approaches I can close my eyes and capture the moment that I was
    blessed by an almost Messiah.

     

     

    Reply
    • Mariaanne

      That was amazing Mirelba.  He sounds wonderful and I like how you remember him in his prime rather than frail and sickly.  I love the idea of receiving a “blessing” once  year from a patriarch.  Most of all though I love that last part where you receive a blessing from an “almost messiah”.  There is so much in love and life in this piece.  It’s wonderful. 

      Reply
      • Mirelba

         Thanks!  I actually never knew him in his prime, but that picture of him was in our family album for years and is simply memorable.  And yup, the tradition continues:  my father of blessed memory and my fil blessed our kids every year, and now dh blesses our grandchildren too.

        Reply
    • Marla

      I love the phrase “almost Messiah”. So beautiful.

      Reply
      • Mirelba

        Thank you, Marla.

        Reply
    • Ernest

      love it. 

      the fact that you get to read and understand so many different aspects and stories of the same figure (a grandfather) in a single page of a blog is amazing!!

      Reply
      • Mirelba

        Definitely. Very interesting to see all these tributes to our different grandfathers.

        Reply
    • C. L. Wood

       this is a lovely story and homage to a grandfather whose influence on the family must have been tremendous.

      Reply
      • Mirelba

        Thank you. And very true, despite his being so quiet, he still had a strong influence on us all.

        Reply
  39. C. L. Wood

    Both of my grandfathers were strong male figures during my early childhood.  They were both dear to me but in different ways.  Although unalike they shared some similarities.  Both were from immigrant families.  Both married women from long established settler families.  Both endowed me with wonderful childhood memories.
    One was a teacher, a sophisticated man about town.  The other was from a sea-faring family.  He and his brothers became farmers in Australia.  Both grandfathers were kind, realistic, very much of their time when the women dealt with the children and the men maintained a mostly separate existence.

    I have memories of sitting on the steps with each of them, at different times and in different places.  I spent most of the school holidays at the house of my Danish grandfather.  The house was always full of children as most of the grandchildren holidayed with them and some even lived there full time.

    On a clear summer night we youngest children would sit on the wide front steps of the house while my grandfather guided us through the name of the stars and the galaxies and told us about the different night skies of the northern hemisphere.  He told us how sailing by the stars was complicated by seasonal variations, and by longitudinal differences.  They were wondrous stories:  a mix of myth and fact and anecdote.  Each moonless night when the stars were brightest we competed to be the one who remembered the names of the most stars, who could recall the particular story or stories associated with each one, how the stories from Aboriginal Australia were different from, yet sometimes had similarities to the stories from Scandinavia.

    I guess in reality he was just entertaining us while the women and older children washed up and prepared the house for our bedtime, but for us it was a magic time, and even today, on a clear moonless night I can name the stars and remember with intense clarity those nights on the steps with my grandfather.

    I lived the rest of the year with my other grandparents.  In that household I was the only child and spoiled beyond belief.  That grandfather was a school teacher, which was probably why my year was divided as it was between the two households.

    My school teacher grandfather would sit with me on the narrow back steps of our home between the school and a pine plantation.  Each Saturday and Sunday morning I read to him.  At first the words on the page were big and clear and curly.  I loved the serifs on the ‘a’s’, the beautiful pattern of the words.  As time passed and I became a more skilled reader there were fewer pictures and more words.  The words decreased in size until, by the time I was reading ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ to him there was only an occasional pen drawing and the words were so tiny I used to be amazed at how many could fit on the page.

    He died when I was seven and I went back to living with my natural parents.  My life had changed but he had instilled a love of reading in me that has been with me, solace and pleasure, ever since.

    I continued to spend the school holidays with my Danish grandfather, but by the time I was nine I was considered old enough to help in the kitchen at night.  Another group of ‘littlies’ took our place on the front steps.  We began listening to the women’s stories behind the plates we were washing and drying and putting away.  We heard stories of who had bought what plate and where and why, who had given it as a present and where the giver was now.  sometimes a piece of crockery had a story from another country attached to it.  I was moving away from my grandfathers into a world of women’s stories.

    Reply
    • Marla

      This is brilliant: stars and books and dishes. What a gifted writer you are. I used to watch the stars with my own father.

      Reply
  40. Marla4

    By the time I was born one of my grandfathers was long in the
    ground, and the other one was likely in a bar, if my mother was right, bellied
    up to the juke box singing along with Glen Campbell, a country star from
    Arkansas he claimed a spotty connection to.

    “Something about the railroad,” my mother said when I
    pressed her.

    So I knew little of him, this man named Lonzo Willett, who left
    my grandmother when my mother was five, and sometimes appeared near her school
    bus stop early in the morning, already smelling of whiskey.

    “I hated him,” my mother said, as flat as if she was reading
    a grocery list.

    My other grandfather, the good one, was named Ollie Jollie
    Cleveland Cantrell, and raised a passel of kids and married three times.  On his headstone, the one he shares with his
    first wife – my father’s mother  – are
    these words.  “Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in
    passing;
    Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness.” 

    The Longfellow lines are at odds with the other sentiments
    in this country cemetery.  There is a
    field of sayings.  “Jesus Needed Her More
    Than Me.”  “I’ll Meet You On The
    Beautiful Shore.” “In The Arms Of The Savior.” 
    A whole lot of Jesus, and very little poetry.

    I say this to my father, who answers.  “Who’s Longfellow?”

    I grow up grandfatherless, unless you count my mother’s
    mother’s latest husband, a man named Cliff who is three months younger than my
    own father, and doesn’t work.

    “He makes me happy,” my grandmother says, and my mother
    storms off, but only a quarter of a mile, because that’s where our house sits.

    My life is overshadowed by women. My mother. Her mother. My
    Aunt Laura who shows up every time Uncle Merritt is drinking.  Which is every weekend and all the holidays
    you get paid for.

    My father works long hours and is quiet.  Once, when I’m getting ready for cheerleading
    practice he follows me outside.  He’s
    hidden cigarettes in his toolbox – my mother won’t allow smoking – that he
    keeps in what he calls the car porch, a term that is a remnant of an older
    time.

    As he’s lighting the cigarette, he starts telling me about growing
    up, how he ran every morning, how his legs ached, how he did it because he
    wanted to be a fighter, but he was too small, he says.

    “And then I met your mother.”

    I look like him, so pale the lady at the cosmetics counter
    sells me concealer as foundation.  My
    mother is dark and fiery and puts her foot down.  I live in the corners of this house, in the
    dark spaces, trying to stay out of her way.

    “She needed a father,” my own father says when I tell him
    what life is like when he’s at work.

    “I need a father,” I say, and I look down at my feet.

    My father lets out a flag of smoke, and he looks at me for
    too long and I know I’ve crossed a line, I know I have because his hands make
    fists and he drops the cigarette and he brushes past me and he takes off, a
    slow trot and then a full-out run, and I watch him, my father who’s all sinew
    and ropey muscle, and he’s really going now, he’s geared up and as he passes my
    grandmother’s house he raises his fist to Cliff who’s draped across the hammock,
    and Prince, my grandmother’s German shepherd takes out after him but my father
    keeps on going, heading for the highway now, and the cars are slowing down but
    my father doesn’t seem to notice.  He
    just keeps going, his arms and legs pumping like his feet are on fire, right in
    line with the cars, and I watch from my place on the car porch until he
    disappears into the great beyond.
     

    Reply
  41. Isabelle146

    I don’t think that I really knew my grandfather. We never really talked. That wasn’t for any feuding reason but because he was a ‘quiet’ man. He didn’t seem to do very much. But, he wasn’t fat. In fact, despite the permanent cigarette smoldering in his mouth he was lean and seemed fit.  Judging by my family photographs he had always been a good looking man and he remained so. He saw action as a submariner in the second world war, clearly brave then, but I wouldn’t say the strong and silent type in fact he was a gentle, man. I confronted him once about mold on the top of a jar of marmalade in a kitchen cupboard I was clearing out for him. He just looked at me, he didn’t reply but what I could see was ‘patience’. Quiet, gentle and patient. I didn’t really know him or anything about him or ask him any questions because I didn’t need to. I knew he loved me and me him.

    Reply
  42. Jeff Goins

    Here’s mine: http://goinswriter.com/best-writer/

    Reply
  43. Yvette Carol

    Grandpa didn’t give hugs, he preferred a handshake. No limp handshakes, mind. For in grandpa’s eyes, character could be revealed in a handshake; everything you needed to know about a man, woman, or a child could be found in the way they took your hand. A limp or wet handshake showed a lack of spirit. That’s what grandpa said.

    He stood tall and straight-backed, the same weight he was proud of saying, that he was when he was 16. Although I’m fairly sure 16 year olds don’t wear all their weight around their belly. But then I didn’t have the heart to say anything. Grandpa falls asleep so often it doesn’t do to waste the precious moments he is awake. 

    Reply
  44. Eric Jorgenson

    Here Goes. Never posted any of my writing anywhere before…

    “Grandpa and the Batmobile”

    I was sitting in the back seat of our Honda Accord on the drive out to my grandparents house. This was the early nineties, so the inside of the car was a dark brown, just like the chesterfield at home, the basement at my Nana and Papas, and pretty much anything we hadn’t bout in the last two years. 
    Out the window I could see the rolling hills and trees of the Canadian shield, with the occasional break showing the vast expanse of Lake Superior. Growing up in Thunder Bay you come to think everyone has a giant lake nearby, turns out I was just a lucky kid. There’s one part of the drive that is fantastic for a five year old kid in 1992. You pass the golf course and make a corner onto the road to Grandma and Grandpa’s. There’s trees hanging over the whole thing, and you can’t see any houses or anything. Its just like in Batman when he’s racing to the Batcave with Vicki Vale. I know the Accord doesn’t have a flaming exhaust or guns or anything, but its still cool. I can’t wait for it on the way home, because then its darker out, just like in the movie.
    The view out my window changes as we hit gravel road. We pass the stables, there’s just one horse out today, we go over the train tracks, no trains today or any day in the last five years, and pass the bank of military green mailboxes. In my mind this means two driveways and we’re at my Grandparents house, which is reason enough to get excited, for my Mom, it means her parents house, and for Dad it means a second home. Speaking of Batman, their house is big, two stories, a giant staircase in the front hall, chandeliers, dining room and huge concrete basement, two garages, this is my Wayne Manor, its very cool.
    As we pull into the driveway we suddenly stop, I realize it’s because Grandpa is out on his riding lawnmower, and is waiting near the end of the driveway, having figured we’d be arriving shortly. I roll down my window yelling Hi Grandpa, so he can hear me over the mower. He yells back that he’s just got to empty the grass bin and he’s heading back to the house, the tail end is the best part. “Chum why don’t you come with me and drive it back to the house?”. I’m unbuckled and out the car door before I can even say yes.
    At the age of five this is a pretty big deal. I’ve been an older brother for eight months, and now I get to drive the riding lawnmower. Life can’t get much better than that I figure.Grandpa drives over to the ditch with me on his lap, and backs it up so we (He) can empty the big grass bins on the back. Once that’s done, I know it’s my time to shine. Up we hop into the seat of the lawnmower, and its my turn to drive. Being five you may imagine that driving may not be quite the most accurate description of my steering, and yelling Faster or Slower to control Grandpa’s foot. This was a great ride, mostly because the lawn we need to cross is huge which means a lengthy ride. We hit the parking area, and its time for finesse. We need to back the lawnmower into the garage, because it has to be facing the right way for when it comes out next time. Grandpa helps me steer this part telling me Left or Right, while I watch the concrete pull awawy in front of us as we back into the garage. We stop, and I hop off.
    I tell Grandpa as we hop off the lawnmower he really needs a batcave car spinner thing. “Oh do I?”, he asks while smiling at me, then reaches up and pulls the garage door shut. I tell him it would save him so much time, because he could pull in forwards at full speed, and it does the turning for you. He says he’ll look into it. I tell him I’ll watch for anything else he needs after seeing Batman Returns tomorrow with Mom. He says he can’t wait to find out what else he’ll need.

    Reply
    • Thuy Yau

      Good on you for posting, Eric. I know how hard it is to put your work up for show; this is only my second time here 🙂

      I really liked the way you wrote, I really felt like I was there. Keep it up!

      Reply
  45. Thuy Yau

    The girl could almost feel his pain, his helplessness, his grief. She stood in the corner of the room, scared to move closer. Her emotions were running wild.

    His body didn’t move, it was as still as a statue; the blankets hiding him away, just like his presence had been doing in the past 5 years.

    She cried for him. She cried for his health, his incapacitation, his inability to do anything. She cried for her grandfather.

    The hospital room looked so dark, despite its brightly-lit bulbs. It felt so empty, despite all the cards, flowers and goodbyes.

    She didn’t know why he had Alzheimer’s disease. She couldn’t understand the reason. Her short 11 years of life could only comprehend so much.

    She inched closer to him, taking baby steps, knowing this would be her last chance at a goodbye.

    Her grandfather opened and shut his eyes, determination showing across his face.

    “What is it… my little.. girl?”, he whispered under his weak breath.

    She put her lips to her grandfather’s face and said, “I just wanted to give you one last kiss goodbye..”

    And with that, the man of 85, who was loved by all his family and friends; closed his eyes for the very last time.

    Reply
  46. zeus

    This year my family would celebrate an 10th year anniversary since our grandfather passed away. I had lived with him for near 5 years when I was a student at high school. He was a kind man. He was a math teacher. So I was really luck when I had a chance to be taught by him.
    He taught the way to learn creatively. He explained me the beauty of math subject. So I had loved the math and this is my best subject. It also affect my choosing job later.
    We often sit and tell together about memories with him on anniversary day. Almost members of my family had at least fun story with him.
    In our heart, he is always respectable grandfather. I wish he would have good sleeping on paradise.

    Thanks

    Reply
  47. Sandra D

    Growing up in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time watching other people
    and wondering why I was always alone. My grandfather would ask if I had
    any friends besides the one, and I would say no. Though I didn’t want him to have asked me, then he told me that wasn’t good.

    He drove up one day and took me for a drive. We went to the movies. We
    started to go every month. Sometimes I took my friend. After the movie
    he took me to a pizza parlor. Not any pizza, but the best pizza I had
    ever had. The movies were always okay. After that sometimes he took me
    to the arcade too.

    Years later after my parents moved from LA and went up to Washington, my
    grandfather would come once a year. I would look forward to the visit for some weeks.
    When his wife died I was 8, I saw her everywhere, every elderly lady in the street or grocery store. I told my mother once. She said that sometimes when you miss someone your mind plays tricks on you. I didn’t think it was a trick though, it meant something, so I didn’t bring it up again.

    When I had found out she was sick and then after that had gone into a coma, I prayed for her as hard as I could. Even though my parents are both atheists. I wanted to believe I could make her live with desire for to.

    I did not know that when she went into a coma, my dad and grandfather had decided after a few weeks to pull the plug. When she died I wandered about feeling lost.
    A couple weeks later we went to visit grandfather. For the first time
    his home had only one person in it. They were two people who were
    always together, always smiling and joking. They are the ones that made
    me believe a good relationship with another person is possible. And I
    looked over at him and I wondered how he was doing now. I asked him how
    he was, he said he was fine, his voice sounded level. He said that it
    was a little hard at first, but he had gotten used to it.
    I believed that there was something not being fully expressed to me
    though. He would not share the parts that were hard, talking to me, he was doing good.

    I always have thought of my grandfather in selfish terms though. He is the one that came to me when we moved.
    He came through the door and gave everyone hugs. I felt shy as I waited by the door to give the hug and kiss of family.

    My parents would talk to him and he would go on about how great my
    cousins were. I had started to think he was a closer to his daughters kids then me. I felt heat rush through me and I exclaimed, but what about me? You always talk about them.

    He chuckled softly, “You need to work on not being so jealous.”
    I scoffed and left the room. Sitting in my room and thinking, the hot
    pain still there, I realized I was jealous. He came into my room a little bit later to apologize but I told him he was right.

    There is always a part of the people close to me, I will never know. But I
    do know he had always been there, trying to help me to grow up into an
    adult. He was patient, and he knew my weaknesses immediately, but he
    didn’t hurt me with that knowledge. He helped.

    At his funeral there was a big emphasis from everyone that his death was
    to be a celebration for his life, and that he hadn’t wanted it to be a
    sad event. There were hundreds of people there. I felt almost
    nonexistent in that crowd, like how could I have mattered to him when
    there were so many people in his life. Then a friend of his came up to
    me afterwards and told me that I had meant so much to him.

    The day after my father said he had died I felt the wind blowing with an
    extra gust then usual, and I felt him, in the wind, placing his hand on
    my shoulder telling me to keep going and that everything would be ok.
    And that was the beginning of my believing that.

    Reply
  48. Lisanne

    My grandfather, “Dan Dan”, was a fisherman and a carpenter. He wore suspenders; but, he only used one suspender strap. His pants were crooked and I always sort of turned my head sideways to line up with his slantedness. He had a sideways smile that we now refer to as his “go to Hell” smile. He liked a cigar balanced on this lip and had a penchant for going off into the woods as my grandma yelled at him to get back on time.

    He fished more than he worked wood. A big catch meant cleaning with all of the cousins watching as he cursed at us to get out of the way, then looked up and smiled that rascal smile and watched us scatter as he randomly tossed fish guts to shoo us off. Most everyone loved him just to experience his swagger and his stories…dogs and children too, they followed Him. He was a fisherman and a carpenter. Maybe that’s why.

    Reply
  49. Cynthia Montgomery

    I felt this piece was beautiful and tragic. Perhaps it’s just my personal experiences with alcoholism amongst family.

    Reply
  50. Pat

    “Settle down! This is not a
    playground!” The kids stopped dead in their tracks. John took a
    pensive puff on his pipe, and couldn’t help but laugh at what a
    caricature he had become. His ears had become the satellites he
    remembered his father’s as. His nose looked like it could detect
    cancer in its nascent stages. His skin sagged in all places, and his
    smile was slowly deteriorating to resemble a rather hastily assembled
    collection of rotting Chiclets.

    As he watched his grandchildren play
    in the parking lot of KIA Rentals, where his son was renting a sedan
    for the week, the octogenarian was suddenly struck by just how much
    life he had lived. Decades emerged and disappeared from his mind,
    like the plumes of smoke slowly drifting from his mouth. He missed
    his youth.

    He thought about high school, and the
    novel feelings of importance and responsibility that came with being
    class president. He reflected on the war, and the small business that
    he had turned into a successful enterprise upon his return. He
    thought about Anne and the many adventures they’d had. What a sharp
    juxtaposition between the John of yesteryear and the John today,
    hunched over a pipe, grumpily watching his grandchildren run about.
    He couldn’t help but laugh.

    Reply
  51. Venex88

    Hi there. This is My First time here. I wrote a 15 minute story about my grandpa as well. I’d like to know if this post is still being reviewed. I’d like some advice on my little story since it is the first time I write.

    Reply
  52. Patricia Reyes

    Wrinkles, always the wrinkles. I count lines on his face as he sleeps – a dreamless, wheezy slumber encumbered by medication and unspoken regret. I pull away. The whirr of machines provide comfort, blanketing thoughts as dark and empty as tonight’s starless sky. I look down. Mindlessly tracing veins of my hands, I pull at loose skin at each of my knuckles.

    I used to take care of my hands. A fervent, nightly ritual of slathering cream has since been abandoned for prayer. I wonder how much longer before the confrontational honesty of age and time shows on the surface. Soon, I hope. I rest my youthful hands on Pops’ face, counting lines and wrinkles, lines and wrinkles. Loneliness creeps in and I wish I had my own to count. The wrinkles, they need to catch up. I need to catch up.

    Reply
  53. Jim Ward

    I realize this is an old post so hopefully someone will read it.

    I don’t remember my grandfathers, they passed when I was young or before I was born. So instead I will write about a grandfather I do know, my kid’s grandfather.

    Grandpa, as the kids know him, is not related by blood. Our kids are adopted and Grandpa has been living with my Mother for 30 years, but he is not my biological father. Neither do I really look at him as my father, I was graduating from high school when he and my Mom started dating.

    But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the kids think of him as Grandpa and they have a Grandpa as I never did. He has lived in the same town all his life, on the water and he would have it no other way. Boats and the water are his life. He piloted a boat in the vietnam war. After the war he was an avid scuba diver and that’s how he and my Mother met. It was inevitable that he would start his own business involving boats.

    He now owns a successful passenger river boat business, plying the waters of the river as the passengers enjoy live entertainment and a good southern style meal. But that’s not the only boat he has. His business runs two smaller boats as river taxis, ferrying passengers from one side of the river to the other. He also keeps a smaller outboard motor boat for pleasure and the occasional fishing trip.

    He loves taking the kids out on the big boat or the small boat, and the kids are thrilled as well. Grandpa, having earned his dues, will only take the kids out if they are behaving, otherwise it’s up to Mom and Dad to deal with the kids. But that’s ok, he’s already raised his own kids, and he’s a busy man.

    Now approaching 73 years old, he always threatens to sell the business and this might finally be the year to do it. Mom has cancer and chances are, her time is limited. He wants to spend as much time as possible with her. Which is one of the most admirable qualities about him. Family comes first.

    Reply
  54. Miguel Rosales

    “When you saw her, stop thinking and start talking.” He said in a low, husky voice.
    “But, I can’t, I get nervous easily, I don’t know what’s stopping me.” I said.

    That’s how my grandfather teaches me on hitting on girls. He always tells me that it’s a piece of cake. “If only I could show you some moves, but I won’t, I love your grandma,” He exclaimed.

    Our whole family, including my grandpa, went to a province to take a vacation. The five hour trip was tedious. When we arrived at the location, we all felt satisfied by the sight of nature. But I had a better sight-seeing session, when I spotted this Model looking teenage girl who is at the same age as mine, my gaze was locked to her, I’d done it discreetly though. Her pretty face had given me a peculiar pumping below my chest and above my abdomen. If only I could talk to her and ask for her number, but how would that be possible? Whenever she spontaneously looks at me, I look away and pretend that I’m not checking her out (I know that the last sentence sounded creepy). Being filled with a mixture of nervousness and infatuation, I felt a hand tapping my shoulder.

    “Tell her she’s pretty,” He whispered in a slightly commanding voice.
    “How would I do that Grandpops?” I replied.

    “With all that sweating and negative feeling you’re having, she’ll reject you instantly.”
    “Then approaching her would be futile.”
    “No, just change your posture and what you feel, remember, It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it.” Grandpa legendarily told me.

    I would never forget those words uttered by Gpops. With no second thoughts, I walked towards where she’s standing. And the rest is history…..

    Reply
  55. Miguel Rosales

    “When you saw her, stop thinking and start talking.” He said in a low, husky voice.
    “But, I can’t, I get nervous easily, I don’t know what’s stopping me.” I said.

    That’s
    how my grandfather teaches me on hitting on girls. He always tells me
    that it’s a piece of cake. “If only I could show you some moves, but I
    won’t, I love your grandma,” He exclaimed.

    Our whole family,
    including my grandpa, went to a province to take a vacation. The five
    hour trip was tedious. When we arrived at the location, we all felt
    satisfied by the sight of nature. But I had a better sight-seeing
    session, when I spotted this Model looking teenage girl who is at the
    same age as mine, my gaze was locked to her, I’d done it discreetly
    though. Her pretty face had given me a peculiar pumping below my chest
    and above my abdomen. If only I could talk to her and ask for her
    number, but how would that be possible? Whenever she spontaneously looks
    at me, I look away and pretend that I’m not checking her out (I know
    that the last sentence sounded creepy). Being filled with a mixture of
    nervousness and infatuation, I felt a hand tapping my shoulder.

    “Tell her she’s pretty,” He whispered in a slightly commanding voice.
    “How would I do that Grandpops?” I replied.

    “With all that sweating and negative feeling you’re having, she’ll reject you instantly.”
    “Then approaching her would be futile.”
    “No,
    just change your posture and what you feel, remember, It’s not what you
    say, It’s how you say it.” Grandpa legendarily told me.

    I would
    never forget those words uttered by Gpops. With no second thoughts, I
    walked towards where she’s standing. And the rest was history…..

    Reply
  56. Miguel Rosales

    “When you saw her, stop thinking and start talking.” He said in a low, husky voice.
    “But, I can’t, I get nervous easily, I don’t know what’s stopping me.” I said.

    That’s how my grandfather teaches me on hitting on girls. He always tells me
    that it’s a piece of cake. “If only I could show you some moves, but I
    won’t, I love your grandma,” He exclaimed.

    Our whole family, including my grandpa, went to a province to take a vacation. The five
    hour trip was tedious. When we arrived at the location, we all felt
    satisfied by the sight of nature. But I had a better sight-seeing
    session, when I spotted this Model looking teenage girl who is at the
    same age as mine, my gaze was locked to her, I’d done it discreetly
    though. Her pretty face had given me a peculiar pumping below my chest
    and above my abdomen. If only I could talk to her and ask for her
    number, but how would that be possible? Whenever she spontaneously looks
    at me, I look away and pretend that I’m not checking her out (I know
    that the last sentence sounded creepy). Being filled with a mixture of
    nervousness and infatuation, I felt a hand tapping my shoulder.

    “Tell her she’s pretty,” He whispered in a slightly commanding voice.
    “How would I do that Grandpops?” I replied.
    “With all that sweating and negative feeling you’re having, she’ll reject you instantly.”
    “Then approaching her would be futile.”
    “No, just change your posture and what you feel, remember, It’s not what you
    say, It’s how you say it.” Grandpa legendarily told me.

    I would never forget those words uttered by Gpops. With no second thoughts, I
    walked towards where she’s standing. And the rest was history…..

    Reply
  57. D. Ellsworth Hoag

    I’m a Grandpa

    Never knew a grandfather
    I had one, I hear tell
    But before I came along
    He was smoldering in hell.

    So I didn’t have a role model
    To look up to
    When I found I was a grandpa
    Just had to muddle through.

    I just try to preform
    the best that t I can
    By being a lot of kid
    And just a bit of man.

    If you have a grandpa
    Pay attention well
    For flying by your pant seat
    Is a special type of hell.

    Reply
  58. Jamie Franks

    I’ve heard it from the beginning, “You get that from your grandfather.” Papa. His name is -was- Papa.

    Everyone called him Papa. His kids. The kids in town who hardley knew him. The kids he took care of in the church who grew out of his caring nature. And me. His granddaughter.

    Papa was fading. They didn’t tell me he was going. Neither did he, but to be fair it was never in him to talk about himself.

    They didn’t tell me he was going. And then he left. And they told me that. And so papa- MY papa- not THEIRS- papa left. I guess I got the memo. Him fading. Him quickly getting slower. But I did that, as I did everything else, on my own.

    I’m at peace with Papa. He hid nothing from me. He simply stayed in reserve.

    But I’m not at peace with them. ‘Oh he’s fine’ I heard. ‘oh he’s just on a trip’ they would bounce off me. Papa didn’t go on trips by himself. Family. That was who he was.

    And then suddenly -poof- he was gone. He had passed.

    And now when I paint, my skills blossomed by Papa’s gentle guidence, they say ” You get that from your grandfather.” To which I will cringe. I’ll not say what is on my mind. The overbearing, overopinionated, overprotecting people around me do nothing but suffocate. And I know so deep inside the dark truth of this. I get this from my Papa.

    Reply
  59. Nick P

    This is not my grandfather. My grandfather looked nothing of the sort compared to the gentle look of the man we see here. Where this grandfather wears a soft cap, mine wore none, and decided to keep his remaining hairs short and harsh, like some kind of Arctic tundra. Where this grandfather smokes an old-fashioned pipe, mine smoked Camels king-size packs, three of them a day (“It’s toasted” he would always say, quoting those old commercials). The clean, leathery face of a grandfather who’s smiled too many times to count is not my grandfather’s face, his still looks like it was pulled back with clothes-pins and wire, like he couldn’t help but sneer from the day he was born.
    But I couldn’t have this grandfather in the picture, he’s not mine.
    I don’t love him like I did my grandfather, and I know I never will be able to again.

    Reply
  60. Charlie Stussy

    Grandparents are so wise, such knowledge and experience, an ability to deal with the trials and tribulations of modern day life, while able to draw on their experiences from an earlier, simpler time.

    I always admired and looked up to my grandparents, after my first real relationship I was able to appreciate how special their love for one another was, able to spend hours sitting in silence in a quiet room, holding hands and just watching the world go by outside the window.

    When my Grandma fell ill the Christmas of my 15th year, it was my Grandad that my heart went out to as it became apparent that we were going to lose our family’s matriarchal rock.

    The nurse said we should all take a moment alone with her to say our goodbyes, and to tell her it was OK to let go and move on, that we would take care of each other and that Grandad would be OK, in time.

    Rather than leave him alone, I stayed with my Grandad while he took his wife’s hand, stroking her softly with trembling hands, and had to somehow, tell her that it was OK for her to leave him, to be free from the pain, that he would see her again someday soon and they would be together again once more.

    I promised my Grandma that I would take care of him for her, and true to my word I didn’t leave his side for the rest of the days that followed int he lead up to the funeral.

    When it was finally over, and the curtains closed around her coffin, and he walked from the room where she was for the last time, he turned to me and smiled. Such gratitude and love in his eyes overwhelmed me, but he looked at peace, and I had to ask him why.

    “I see her in your eyes, I know she lives on through your mother and you, she’s waiting for me at home, and she’ll walk with me on the beach tomorrow, I won’t ever have to live without her. I will talk to her every day, and you should too. Look in the mirror and see her looking back at you, never feel you’re alone because she’s with you always.”

    If he hadn’t said all this to me I could have easily missed all the signs I now see of my Grandma all around me, instead I feel her smiling as the lambs run in the spring, I see her, eyes-closed, face turned to the sun on a peaceful summer afternoon. I feel her holding my hand when things get tough and sending me encouragement when I doubt myself.

    I don’t have to worry that she’s lonely because when I see her out of the corner of my eye, walking in the swirling autumn leaves, I see my Grandad holding her hand, they wave me off as they turn and walk into the evening.

    Reply
  61. Stephie B

    I hadn’t seen my grandfather for some time. I last saw him
    at our family Christmas get together a few years back, when I still lived in
    the village.

    Back then he was lively and playful, the first one to always crack a joke. He
    often taught my brothers how to play poker, and always had a cigar in one hand
    and a small glass of scotch in the other. He had a large round belly that
    jiggled when he laughed with a bellowing guffaw.

    Today he was old and frail. These past few years had not been kind to him; his
    face was leathery and wrinkled. His once bright blue eyes were now a dull and
    cloudy grey. He was thin, almost skeleton-like, with his belt wrapped tightly
    to his waist to hold up his now baggy trousers. He still wore the sweater I bought
    him that Christmas, but now it looked more like a blanket than clothing.

    I asked him if he was okay, trying to hide the concern that was spread across
    my face. He nodded and smiled slightly, then took my hand into his own. His
    hand was ice cold, despite having clutched a hot cup of tea for most of the
    evening.

    He took hold of my arm as I guided him towards the armchair in front of the
    fire. I grabbed the blanket my sister had knitted for him and tucked him into
    his chair, just like he used to do for me all those years ago when I was a
    little girl, worn out from a day of play. I kissed his forehead and watched as
    he drifted into a peaceful slumber.

    Reply
  62. Dorothy Rebello

    John Fernandes my grandfather. He was a great pastry chef. He had a signed letter by Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘The Prime Minister of India” complimenting his skills. He lived for a
    very short period of time during my childhood. I have heard a lot about him and his cooking skills from my mom and her siblings.

    He just once came to live with us and was not very lucid at that time. He used to sit on a chair during the day mostly glaring outside the window. Mom would often ask me to buy his favourite sweet called “Halwa” it’s a sticky Indian sweet transparent like a jelly with
    pumpkin seeds on it. The sparkle in his eye and joy on his face when eating it
    was heart warming. I would often save money to get him one on my way back from school.

    I wish I had a chance to learn from him. Mom often says I inherit my baking skills from him. Love you grandpa. Miss you.

    Reply
  63. Meghan

    “Grandfather”

    Christmas morning is the highlight of the year for Gramps. Donned in red flannel pajamas, he has a routine he’s followed for years on this special day. It starts with a lone pilgrimage downstairs with Mamie where no kids are allowed. He flips the switch on the coffee, and it starts to percolate.

    This is his first Christmas with an alert grandchild. He’s been dreaming of this morning for years. His antics are amplified, and he’s jollier than usual. His face is shining, and he has the spirit of a young dad again, full of mischief. He gets to play Santa again!

    With the coffee brewing and family clad in their Christmas jammies, Gramps makes a big show of crawling under the tree to select the first present for his grandson to open. He settles down on the floor next to him and encourages him to unwrap the gift. The 13-month old baby looks at him like he has two heads. You want me to do what, Gramps?

    So Gramps pulls the toddler on his lap and shows him how to tug on the ribbon. It starts to yield, unraveling slowly as Gramps tries to transfer the task to his grandson. The gift only ends up in his mouth.

    Finally, Gramps can’t take it. He unwraps the wooden rocking horse himself and leans back to watch the reaction. What does Aston think? Does he recognize it as a horsey? Is he curious about it?

    Unbeknown to his family, Gramps has finished this rocking horse on his own. In an effort to harken simpler times, he bought a roughly hewn, unpainted wooden rocking horse at a local country store, one of the many nearby who think furniture is best made from light pine. Back in the darkest part of the basement, he set up two sawhorses and laid a plank of plywood across to form a makeshift table. He purchased new packages of the most durable sandpaper and spent hours idly smoothing down every surface. No grandchild of his would get splinters on HIS rocking horse.

    Next, he painted the horse a deep forest green. Why forest green? He didn’t know. It just struck him as the right choice in the paint aisle at Lowe’s.

    Once the paint was lacquered in layers, he added a gloss to make the horse shine. He bought a strip of leather, which he expertly cut into a toy bridle. He drilled holes through the horse’s neck and looped the leather through, leaving enough for a child to gather the loose reins in their hands on his back.

    He bedazzled the bridle with gold metallic triangles. He painted the rockers shiny gold to accent the bridle. He scoured local antique shops for a toy saddle. When he found one he liked, he had to buy the entire horse it already sat on. That old horse was now permanently riderless, his saddle tailored to fit another wooden pony.

    Aston reached out and touched the horse’s handles and looked at Gramps. He smiled. Gramps beamed then helped him throw a short, chubby leg over the saddle until he was straddling the horse and sitting up right. Gently Gramps rocked the horse forwards and backwards, going slowly so Aston wouldn’t get scared and want off. Eventually, the baby understood what was going on and started to jerk himself back and forth in what was mostly an awkward use of energy.

    Reply
  64. Shelby R.

    My grandfather is someone who has an
    opinion about everything. He knows a lot about everything, or at least he
    claims to. He was born in the 1940’s and very old fashioned. Morally and
    politically. When I was younger, my mother would always drop me off at grandma
    and grandpa’s before school. From their house, I would be picked up by the
    school bus and also dropped off there after school. During the span of about
    seven years of being with my grandparents more than my actual parents, I had a
    lot of time to observe them. My grandma would talk to me like an old friend but
    my grandfather, at the time, was different. He was always involved with
    something, whether it be doing work around the house or out shooting clay birds
    with one of his many guns. He’d always be picking on me, calling me goofy names
    but yet, he seemed to have a stern approach at the same time. My grandfather is
    a very straight forward man. I believe that during my childhood, his
    straight-forwardness is thing I learned from him which stands out the most. He
    would never “beat around the bush” in attempts to protect one’s feelings.
    “That’s just how things are” and “It is what it is” are his two sayings that
    always burn in the back of my mind. One day, when my grandfather is no longer
    with me, I will remember him by his strength and bluntness.

    Reply
  65. Katie Gottberg

    First time poster!

    The man in the corner of my bedroom did not exude a dark energy. Instead, a soft light radiated around him. Though this was a good sign, the knots in my stomach did not subside. From where I stood in the hallway outside my bedroom, I could see his crinkled fingers fidget with something in his chest pocket. He seemed to grow disappointed as time went on, and the wrinkles around his eyebrows grew closer together as he formed a distasteful look on his face. He looked older than dirt, at least older than any human I had ever seen with my own two eyes. His face seemed like a never ending wrinkle, or possibly a concentration of wrinkles, forming together into a mass of skin and plopped onto a bone structure. The wrinkles around his bushy eyebrows continued onto his massive nose, resembling the appearance of a tomato that has been ravaged with bee stings. His never ending wrinkle extended to his two eyes, encasing them in crows feet and two distinct dark circles. It came as no surprise that this lengthy single wrinkle pursued it’s mission of conquering this man’s face all the way down to his lips, neck, and even down to every one of his finger tips. While examining this raisin of a human, his look of distaste grew. It was almost impossible to make out two glittering blue eyes in between the wrinkles, but as soon as I did, I knew who he was. I stepped out from the shadows and slowly inched toward the doorway.

    “Finally, kid! I thought you were going to stay out there forever…” The man groaned. His voice and face were full of annoyance, but his eyes and the light around him demonstrated a different attitude. “Don’t you recongnize me?”

    “Grandpa?” I whispered.

    “Jesus, kid, of course I am! Now can you tell me why in the hell I can’t leave this godforsaken house?” I wanted to tell him, I really did. But how the hell is an eight year old to tell their own grandparent that they are dead?

    Reply
  66. makeda

    My grandfather was a mean old man soul hardened by the jim crow era. In Alabama, my grandfather had to drink out of a colored only water fountain. My grandfather put his life on the front line in Korea for a country that treated him unfairly. After barely escaping korea with his life my grandfather came home only again to be subjugated to the colored only section of the train. Now he was not just a nigger to the demented soulless whites of the jim crow era he was now known as a nigger with stripes. He did not receive a hero’s welcome nor was he rewarded with the purple heart for his bravery instead he was spit on and told not to forget his place. When Obama announced his campaign for presidency and after he won my grandfather cried and he had a loyal supporter in him. Grandpa cried and was ecstatic to see a black man achieve such a high honor in America in his life time. My grandfather taught us how to work hard and to never fall into the traps of the victim role. Grandpa never bowed his head he always stood firm and tall. Grandpa died shortly after witnessing Obama become the next president but little did he know the lynching and killing of blacks and teens was not over but this time they would not terrorize us at night like they did grandpa growing up they would do it in the day time on live tv for the whole world to see but nothing would still be done about it.

    Reply
    • Morgen Shirley

      that’s a powerfully moving story. Understandably he would be a hardened man, but also a strong and resilient soul.
      Obama coming into office was cleary a very fulfilling moment for him. He was able to live out something he had always wanted through the experience of another. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply
  67. Morgen Shirley

    My entire life I’ve spoken less than 20 words to my grandfather in a given moment. He gives me $50 every Christmas and birthday which I thank him for. And then we sheepishly laugh, unable to look one another in the eye, both of us waiting for my father to tell me we’re leaving. We have a silent understanding of what it feels like to be painfully shy. Yet we have never spoken of this. I wonder what he thinks about while he spends almost all his time alone in his trailer with his dog. I wonder if he holds the shame of existing in this world like I do. Did I get it from him? How did he become this way? I ask these questions when I alone never daring to actually ask him. We share this fear of connection and instead choose to hide ourselves from the world, and one another.

    Reply
  68. Autumn

    The aroma of jasmine tobacco laced the air and the smell of fresh brewing coffee on the stove we made it to the place we all called home. Entering the rickety two-story house brought to life the essence of childhood. Running through the yard, spending hot summer nights on the porch covered in insect repellent vividly ran through my thoughts.

    We were home again for the summer to relive our past. Granddaddy, met us relaxed in his worn arm chair with a smile. There was no need to knock on the door we just walked in with, “Hey granddaddy!” and his usual response, “Come on in here and hug my neck.”

    Quickly settled in for an evening of laughs, as custom, we would sit around in the great room and share stories of the past. Delighted to hear them retold as if there were something missed the times before.

    Oh how we all cherished these moments we spent with our granddaddy, full-fledged, but forever his grandbabies.

    Reply
  69. j

    what should i title this? looking back at the years spent day after day night after night procrastinating, Nonchalantly awaiting the interruption of god. Passive spirituality was a consistent past time of mine. The self perfectionism was not resolved until 38, when i decided to no longer care. And since has been rather like a dream. Wrestling was my first memory of initiation into a cultured being, sitting with my brothers, the hours would fly by. The world would keep on spinning and we would just sit watching those guys fight. I hadn’t yet understood the relativity of things, so like everyone one of us, slipped into what i later new to be unconsciousness as apposed to being conscious. I was trading my own subjectivity for some artificial construction of subjectivity. How strange a mutation that our own awareness would be imagined and cognised outside of ourselves for a kind of occult spiritualised masturbation. Culture has evolved into an autonomously transforming language, involving multiplied subjective possibilities engaging in a relationship not unlike parasites and antibiotics. This is just a private vision of course – a consciousness so constantly changing, yet also refusing change, fighting with itself.

    So i needed to learn how to get out of my own way. And the thing with this is, you can’t try to do it. A thousand failures must be endured, so that surrender has a good match to play. When this stuff draws you in like an exponentially-absorbing attractor, the ever-present, quiescent balance of opposites is a humbling reality, one that causes you to be silent more often than not. It is tempting to think that we ourselves are projection, of the invisible inner self. You want it to be there, but it already is. The present moment is something to get to, yet you can’t escape the present moment. Yet the reality does not feel binary. This is by far the most challenging hallucination to reconcile oneself to the challenging and suffering of the happiness project. Maybe its just because my back is fucked from slouching, stoned in a cloud of farts.

    Reply
  70. Joe Bloggs

    Gripping the sides of the boat with callous, white-knuckled hands, the man gritshis teeth, baring his body to the elements. around him, a crescendo of noise, babies crying, women hushing their children, the almighty cracks each time a wave hits the side of the boat and his own irregular panting, a mixture of panic and exhilaration. Suddenly, he can see it…land! the beautiful land which holds so many promises – the promise of freedom, the promise of safety…the promise of a new life. To cut a long story short, the man now has a shop, which sells the food he lovingly prepares, and a family who adore him, and his bravery, and the life he gave them, gave us. This man is so special. This man, is my grandfather.

    Reply
  71. Aashna

    GRANDFATHERS

    Grandfathers; it’s a simple word but it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

    I think of grandfathers as that fuzzy happy feeling that you get on a Christmas morning. I never got to meet my paternal granddad but I’m pretty sure I would’ve loved him to pieces. A grandfather to me is this person who will constantly know how to pamper you, someone who always has the best advice and even though he comes off as a rather strict father figure for his own kids, but his grandchildren will always see him as this loveable teddy bear that they can forever hold on to.

    I’ve this weird connection to both of my grandfathers because I get my qualities from both of them. For instance my love for writing has been gifted to me by my nanu ( maternal grandfather. ) and my constant hunger for history and knowledge comes to me from my dadu ( paternal grandfather. ) I remember being six and running to my nanu as soon as I came back from school I 0would sit with him for hours and hours listening to his stories of struggle and of India before independence. I wish he was still alive, I would of got to learn so much from him. But cancer took him away from me and I’ll never forgive it for this.

    Grandfathers or grandparents in general are the most amazing people on the planet. I remember my nanus hands very clearly they had all these scars and wrinkles that tells me that he had a good life. He fell down and always knew how to rise back up. His forehead had a lot of worry lines on them and I am sure they came from all those late nights when he we would be up at night worrying where his three teenage kids were. but mostly what I remember is his heartwarming smile. that made almost any place feel like home. Losing him wasn’t that hard for me because I was only 7 and I till date believe that he is in a better place. Sometimes late at night when I can’t sleep, I like to look up at the stars and I believe that he is the one star that shines the brightest every night no matter how windy or cloudy it is and then in the morning I know that I can’t see him but knowing he is still there and shining above a different side of the planet, giving light to the travellers and happy families is the biggest comfort I know of.

    To me a grandfather will always be a superhero that wears no capes but has the softest face and a perfectly rounded belly and has this incredible superpower of making everything just right.

    Reply
  72. Plague Tsunami

    Most people strive to be rich and powerful, crushing the rest of the world beneath their feet, and herding the lower class like a flock of sheep.

    However, my grandfather came from a simpler family, one without corruption and greed. In his younger days, he was courageous, and willing to give up anything to protect those he loved; two traits that stayed with him through the years, though he could less exhibit them due to time catching up with him.

    He always told me, “The only wealth I need, is the wealth I have when
    I’m with my family,” and to this day, I can still hear hear him saying it,
    almost as if it had lodged itself deep within my mind. That phrase had
    stuck with me my entire life, as well as his slight
    Vietnamese accent, and the way he always put emphasis on the word
    family.

    Then he’d take my tiny hand, and lead me to the garden,
    where he’d give me a tour of all the colorful flowers he’d planted. He
    would always stoop down and talk to the plants, similarly to the way he
    spoke to me. I would watch him and giggle, and he always said, “It helps
    plants grow when you’re kind to them, did you know?” Vibrant and happy
    plants, just like him.

    The old man had seen a lifetime of warfare, and had watched as the blood of his comrades painted the ground beneath him. Yet, somehow, his smile was brighter than anyone’s I’d ever seen. When he smiled, so did everyone else, and that’s just how contagious his happiness was. But there was more to him than just the happy man we’d come to love, because no matter how bright the smile, there was always pain lingering behind his eyes.

    When I was 13, I tapped on the door to his office, and got only silence in reply. Carefully pulling the door open, I took a good look around the room; my grandfather was slumped over at his desk, almost as if he had fallen asleep, and several pill bottles scattered the surface around him, one of which was completely empty. I silently walked over, wanting to look at him without waking him up. However, that was when I realized something was wrong. He wasn’t snoring like usual, was he really asleep? I ran and got the neighbors, and by then, everything started happening so fast that it felt surreal. Sirens, white lights, and big vans. But the one thing that stuck in my mind the most, was my grandfather being pulled along on a cot, and hurriedly thrown into the back of the ambulance.

    Now I am 20, and I hold my grandfather’s rough hand in mine. Once again, he is walking me through the garden, but this time, he isn’t telling me the names of the flowers, nor is he singing to them. Though he is silent, he still seems to glow more vibrant than ever, and he has a sort of divine halo to his skin. We reach the end of the garden, and he slowly releases my hand, giving me a proud pat on the back, expressing his love for me without using any words. In front of us, rests an old, worn out grave, cracked and lonely. After examining the stone for a few moments, I look around for my grandfather, but he’s nowhere to be found. I don’t wonder where he went, as I already know.

    Rest in peace, my happy flower.

    Reply
  73. Miranda

    She couldn’t stop smiling at him. Every time she went under the table, he’d pretend that he didn’t know where she went. She’d giggle and smile quietly then spring up to the booth and yell, “Here I am, Poppi!”

    “You had me worried there, munchkin. I thought I lost you again!” he replied with a playful worried look on his face.

    It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon but we were the only people in the diner: Poppi, Little Girl, and I. They continued with their game a few more times until the food got to their table. Poppi took the French fries and made fake walrus teeth and Little Girl laughed so hard no sound was coming out of her mouth until she took a breath.

    My coffee was officially cold, but the cup was still full so I had take big gulps to try and finish it. Mother would always yell at me for never finishing a hot cup of coffee. I’d wait until its cold and old before I’d finish it. It’s not something I do on purpose, it just happens that way.

    “Poppi, are you a princess” Little Girl nervously played with her food while waiting for he answer.

    “No, baby, Poppi isn’t a princess.” Little Girl looked very disappointed by his answer. “But Grandma is” he spit out after seeing her reaction. Her face turned around.

    “She is? So, does that make me one, too?”

    “Why, yes. It most certainly does.” Poppi said with confidence. Little Girl’s face lit up and she dropped the food she was playing with on her plate and sat back, relieved. She didn’t know how she was a princess but she knew she was one, and that’s all that mattered.

    “Is Mommy a princess like me and Grandma?” Poppi’s face completely shifted. His fist clenched tightly on the table. He looked around anxiously to find an answer. Our eyes met for a brief second. I’ve spent my whole afternoon with them and he’s just now finding out I had been sitting here the whole time. I look down and break the stare, ashamed to have been eavesdropping on their lunch. But I could still feel Poppi staring at me.

    “What are you looking at, Poppi?” Little Girl asked trying to match his stare. “I can’t see anything. Is it Mommy?”

    I left the cash on the counter and gathered my things to leave.

    “No, baby, Mommy isn’t here. Why don’t you finish your food and we’ll go get some ice cream on the way home”

    “Ice cream! I’m done eating let’s go get ice cream now!” Little Girl said as she popped out of the booth and pulled on Poppi’s arm. He left some cash on the table and followed her out.

    On his way out he gave me one last look. I don’t know why and I don’t know what it meant. I just knew I could never go back to that diner.

    Reply
  74. Laura O

    I can still see him so clearly in my mind. Memories of him flow through me like the blood in my veins. A part of me he will forever be. The only consistent male figure I ever had in my life. I was intimidated by him in my younger years. Before my grandmother died, he was like a mysterious entity just passing by. Before my grandmother got sick, she was the primary grandparent figure in my life and he was just a small part in the play. He was more interested in her back then. She was the light in his life. I remember how everyday he would get home from work, he would give her a long kiss and a little grab on the butt. Looking back, I’m impressed by their affection even in their sixties. They enjoyed each others company so much. Traveling the world. Reading side by side every night. The true epitomy of a great marriage. When she died, it was only then that I got to know him. Grumpy. A little mean. Not the same as his other half was gone. But as he got older those rough edges began to soften. It’s as if age and time peeled back the tougher layers. I began to see a sweet man. Tears when he’d read the Father’s Day card my Mother would get him. Maybe vulnerability caused by all of his health issues induced this sweeter, softer side. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with him one more time and listen to one of his long stories from his boyhood. I will never forget how much interest he took in what college classes I had been taking at the time and how one of my motivating factors to graduate was to make him proud. I can’t help but chuckle a little thinking about the talk about the birds and the bees he gave me when I was a young teenager as I feared for my life by his driving when he had to take me to school one morning. Grandfathers. Old. Grumpy. Representation of what was. Sometimes forgotten. Weathered. Funny. But so, so necessary. I will always be eternally grateful for the memories he has left with me. Hercumer. He would always call my oldest son Hercumer even though he knew that was not his name. How I miss that humor.

    Reply
  75. Martie

    My grandfather raised five daughters while working from abroad. He had to leave his family to keep them from starving. Although my mother, one-third of the triplet babies, barely got the chance to see him, she knew he loved her and her sisters equally and tremendously.

    But he had a strange way of loving me. His calloused hands used to pull me on his lap, his eyes crinkling in the corners as I follow his lead. In a whisper as sweet as candy he would tell me to never tell anyone not even mommy. In the playroom, we would keep our games.

    The colorful toys engulfed our secrets deep and safe but no matter , no matter how old I get, no matter how many rape poems I have to read just to feel validated, no matter how many times I tell myself that it was not my fault, it would always claw its way back to the surface. It follows me like a shadow. Even on my brightest days, I feel it cling to the crevices of my consiousness. Sometimes it slumbers. But it never stops lurking, like a monster waiting on its prey, when I am at my weakest, it attacks.

    I don’t see my grandfather anymore.

    Reply
  76. Roxanne

    Tucked up in twin beds in the blue room,
    Hiding under the duvets, a story just told,
    Of magicians and dragons and hot lava mountains,
    Of sea’s and of land far far away.

    The story that was told by the Grandpa,
    Who so humbly got along with his days,
    But when he came to tuck us in at night,
    With a story of adventures world wide;
    He lit up our minds with such light, that sleep was not quite,
    Not without a nightmare, a scream and a cry.

    But Grandpa was our saviour, our guardian, our safety;
    A figure to respect, who was there- you could rely,
    Grandpa, with his balding patch and rough skin,
    Will there ever be the right words to express,
    How much I would like to thank him.

    For those stories were more than just fables,
    They were hopes, dreams and what made me begin,
    They gave colour to seemingly dark places,
    Never room for those who can’t win.

    Reply
  77. John P.

    My grandfather died when I was 7 years old so I didn’t know him well. However, I do have fond memories of him from various visits and family gatherings, through the stories my mother and grandmother would tell and from a few family photos.

    He was quite involved with the military, spending time overseas during both world wars and in the Reserve while in Canada. My grandmother told me that he would go to his weekly Reserve meetings and he and his pals would go to the bar afterward. On more than one occasion, he showed up after midnight with the whole gang, waking up my grandmother to join them for a sing along around the piano. His career was in commercial real estate, an occupation to which he was well suited due to his outgoing personality.

    He was not a wealthy man but managed to enjoy life’s pleasures to the fullest. He and my grandmother always lived in the best neighbourhoods and sent their three daughters to the finest schools. Much of the time they had a maid. One story my grandmother told me was this: They had been out at a late party and were lying in bed the next morning with the sun shining through the closed window. He didn’t want to get up and open it so he picked up the slipper from the floor beside the bed and threw it at the window. The window broke and the slipper ended up in the garden. A short while later, the maid arrived with a breakfast tray including coffee, juice, toast and the slipper. I didn’t think the story was that funny, but my grandmother did. Or maybe she just thought it typified her late husband.

    I remember bringing him his medicine when he got sick and how sad we all were when he passed away. I remember my grandmother spending the next thirty years on her own. But mostly I remember the big armchair in the living room that was “his” (and later mine), walks through the neighbourhood on snowy Christmas evenings after wonderful dinners and how his warm personality would always bring cheer to family get-togethers.

    Reply
  78. Meg

    It is so dark out and I am tired but I know that he is awake, and I can’t wait to eat eggs with him. Early mornings with Papa I am free, important, and precious.

    The smell of the stale attic where I sleep, the creak of the rough carpeted stairs, pulling together whatever clothes are nearest to me- I propel myself forward into this new day.

    I love Papa, but I can’t tell you every detail why. I was young and he was old. I was happy and he was grumpy.

    I get into the old pickup truck, cold racing down my spine, my hot breath in the air. The sky is now grey but the whole world seems to still be asleep and I feel important.

    We roll through the slummy rural downtown and I feel so proud to take up this space in the tattered truck. I am not a little girl right now. I am a living, breathing, being with so many questions.

    We pull in front of the small breakfast cafe. I wonder if anyone is really inside? I see flickers of light and slight movement. We walk in and I glance around. Smiles are returned as if I have known this large tooth decayed woman my whole life.

    It’s a club. A meeting of early risers at these tables. We have all figured out one of the best kept secrets in life. Eat your breakfast while the rest of the world dreams. Have your coffee black or sweet, but have the first pot brewed.

    I look at Papa who orders me the sunshine biscuit. No one every tells you things like…”this egg and cheese biscuit smothered in gravy, along with this dingy cafe will get stored away in your heart and live with you forever.”

    I smile at Papa. I want him to tell me more but if he doesn’t, I understand. He doesn’t have to say anything for me to know him.

    Cold truck rides, sunshine biscuits, dingy cafes and Papa are what I remember now. Everything stood still in my world when papa woke me up for breakfast.

    Reply
  79. Skylee Estby

    (A fictional peice)

    When I was little, my grandfather and I were real close. On Sunday afternoons, we would head down to the lake and fit out in the blazing hot sun all day fishing on his tiny boat. Somedays we would stay out there for so long that my skin would turn as red as a lobster. And whenever Christmas came around, he would take me into the forest to hunt ducks and deer. He told me that a young woman my age should be able to take down a deer no problem, and so I did. On my birthday, he would cook me lamb balls and roasted ham. He would buy me a vintage record tape from old jazz bands. When I was twelve he took me to London, where I got to meet the eighth doctor, and Ace. Every Easter why the children were playing in the yard, collecting plastic eggs filled with quarters and chocolates, he would take me to the side of the house, and we would throw a baseball. And during family reunions, we would laugh about how stupid some of our family members were; Like Aunt Josey and her seven cats. Or great uncle Merle’s job as a circus clown. And we often laughed at my third cousin Axel because he was so idiotic.
    But now, it’s getting harder to imagine my grandfather laughing, or his stupid grin. It’s hard to hear his chuckles echo in my head, only now because his corpse lays beside me. He’s dressed in his nicest tux, the one he wore to his wedding with grandma. He always said he hated it, that the blue pastel was too obnoxious, and that it was tight around his arms. He would much rather be wearing a comfy t-shirt and light brown shorts. His dress shoes were stuffed onto his feet (although he would prefer to go barefoot), and his hair was groomed and gelled. His eyebrows were finally tamed, and he seemed to be shaved. So as I stand beside him now, my eyes still in shock that his dead body is cold next to me, my mother puts a hand on my shoulder.
    “It’s okay, Amy.” She whispers softly into my ear. I only shake my head and look away from her, making sure my face is out of sight. “It’s okay to cry.”
    But it’s not okay to be so still. I thought guiltily. “I know that.” I meant to say confidently, but it came out as more of a whisper. He looked so peaceful, it sent chills down my back. He wouldn’t want to be this way. He would want to smile and make crappy jokes. He would want to make silly jokes, and show us how his dog could do all sorts of amazing tricks. He would used to pat my head and pull a quarter from behind my ear, when I was just a child. But I’m an adult now. Why can’t I just accept that people die?
    I had always felt unsympathetic when people died. Celebrities, pedestrians, relatives I barely knew, victims on the news… But it’s so much different when you’re close. I feel like I should know, how painful it is to lose others, but the only people who had left this world in my life were my grandma (who I had only seen three times due to the divorce), my fourth cousin who I only knew from spotting at family parties, and my mom’s cat (which I downright hated). It feels so… Empty. Like it’s missing. I keep hoping that grandpa will sit up with no memories of being groomed and polished for his funereal. Like that guy I saw on CNN once who woke up on the day of his funeral. But this was different, he was dead for sure. He was out, stone cold, and the Doctors would know, since he died of old age.
    “Come on.” My mom sighed, grabbing my wrist to pull me away from the coffin. “Everything will be okay.”

    Reply
  80. Richard Mark

    The rhythm of his face was a canticle to his youth. Every crease and pit sang of triumphant joy. There could never have been misery. Only joy. Indeed, the way he looked at him was a hymn; in his self was praise of what he expected this old man to be. An extolled eulogy of what he demanded this imperial figure provide.

    It was a safe winter’s evening, the smell of Mother’s cooking billowed from the kitchen and the newly cut log cracked on the fire. James nestled his head into the cushion and stretched his young limbs with satisfied content. The amber from the fire danced on his shirt and he felt warm. He knew he would grow old like his Grandfather and have the same majesty in age. “He died this morning.” The threadbare carpet always hurt his hips. The floorboards underneath offered no comfort. He toyed with a splinter and ripped it from its grain.

    Reply
  81. c.gurvi

    I watched the blue station wagon inch its way down our narrow gravel road, carefully navigating the deep ruts. I didn’t recognize it.
    “I wonder who she sent now”.
    I never questioned my assumption, I knew our family dynamics too well.
    As it drew closer my curiosity was satisfied “Grandfather”.

    Reply
  82. Raquel Barrientos

    They were young once. They were boys who were rowdy, raucous, curious, and always getting into trouble. They were too tough to cry, though as little boys they wailed into their mother’s aprons and clung to her skirts. No one reminded them of these moments until heartbreak or until dear mother died and they came to the realization that life was counted according to the callouses on their hands, the lines threaded into their faces, and the knowledge that experience had culminated in the loss of agility and hair. Their world had shifted, outpouring into a new generation of sons and grandsons. The younger men stepped in to take their places as heads of households, and would eventually surpass them in their roles of elders. Grandfathers fell in love as passionately as before. Some kept waiting until they could rejoin their lost mothers and hearts. The grandfathers dreamed less and snored more. The grandfathers laughed loudly and marveled at the young nude world sweeping them up as if they were stale and light as dust. The grandfathers wondered if they were not responsible for some of the messes of the present day. Grandfathers forgot their blunders and could not keep up with the rapidly expanding winds of change. Grandfathers paced and slept until they could no longer find the energy or interest in shuffling onward in creaking gravity. Grandfathers sat in the quiet observation of the dyne around them. 7.4 billion and counting. The grandfathers were proud and confounded. How had they produced so very much and when had they lost such profound desire? The grandfathers inquired and waited for their turn to pass. Grandfathers were surely on their way in the next herd.

    Reply
  83. Bunkert Cheeks

    Such an old, lived in and lovable face. A face that always appeared as though it was on the verge of breaking out into a broad grin and raucous laughter. We used to just simply call him The Grandfather, and to everyone living south of the Mezzogiorno this name was met with either total respect or absolute fear. Those who The Grandfather had no reason to be angry with, had little to be afraid of. But the people who had come to his attention and disappointed him received their punishment; sooner or later they always received a sickly and depraved punishment.
    It was 1947, a couple of years after the end of the war that I found myself on my first night officially working for the Grandfather. When I say officially working it wasn’t like I got a social security number, health care and dental, all the same there was no room for doubt that I was employed by The Grandfather.
    The Grandfather and some of his associates were big opera aficionados and had gone to enjoy the Barber of Seville at Teatro san Carlo in Naples. The lavish theatre was awash with those who were going to be influential in the rebuilding of Italy after the war; coincidentally these were also the people who had profited the most during the war. An electric charged crackled in the air of the theatre foyer. The air was also infused with the fragrances of some of the finest and most expensive perfumes and eau de colognes. Now that the war had ended the racketeers were of course having to find new sources of revenue, many had an eye on the $13 billion dollars pledged to rebuild Europe under the Marshall Plan which would begin in April next year. Although the plan had been described as “the American plan for the enslavement of Europe”, the people gathered at the opera house were open to being enslaved just so long as they got a hold of a good share of the cash U.S Secretary of State George Marshall had proposed to flood Europe with. These were people from proud families who did business fast, they came through on what they said, there was no need for books, paperwork nor receipts, when you said you would do something and you got it done, because you knew what would happen to you if you didn’t. It was this style of un-bureaucratic business that had seen the infrastructure of Naples rebuilt with great alacrity, if not quality. So it was a big night to be at the theatre and to be seen at the theatre. The Barber of Seville was The Grandfather’s favourite opera; one which he must have listened to a hundred times and one he personally identified with. The plan was simple, he and his entourage were to watch the Opera and then meet up again at The Grandfather’s restaurant for more drinks, but more importantly finalizing business.
    The opera unavoidably progressed toward Rosina’s cavatina, The Grandfather’s favourite piece of his favourite opera. Rosina was being played by a beautiful, young and upcoming opera starlet. A most attractive, sultry looking young lady whose hair was so black it shined iridescently in the footlights, with both fullness in the lips and the bosom there was little doubting that the male half of the audience became perceptively more attentive whenever she appeared on stage. In scene two of the first act, Rosina performs her cavatina a fiery piece demanding both great stage presence and supreme singing ability. The Grandfather fell into the music, his soul rising and falling with the music, punctuated by the pitch in the singing of Rosina. The Grandfather pulled faces of post ejaculatory bliss. Then, alarmed he opened his eyes, pulled himself to look over the front of the box and made a sibilant sound as he sucked the air in between the gaps of his aged teeth and tongue. The pupils of his eyes dilated turning them black, his gaze never once left the form of the beautiful Rosina, he consumed her with his gaze, with all his senses while shaking his head.
    During the interval I was told to leave the theatre and go to the croquet club. Yes Naples had a croquet club in 1947. Established and left behind by the British after the war. It made me smile, when I thought of what the Romans did for Britain. and in return they gave us a croquet lawn. I was to prepare the croquet lawn for The Grandfather and his guests and to be ready to receive them for play at the end of the opera. The Grandfather had taken up croquet in the belief that it made him appear more aristocratic, interesting and eccentric. The Grandfather was also an Anglophile and believed such a past time to be debonair and becoming of a genuinely civilized man. I was aware that this represented a significant change from what had originally been agreed, whilst being a strange request I knew it was one I could complete easily enough, even though I was left pondering how they intended to play croquet in the dark.
    With only the ambient light of a quarter moon to assist me, I hammered all the paraphernalia into the positions as best as I could remember, having only been to the club a couple of times and needless to say for reasons other than to play.

    It was then I saw something moving in the darkness behind them, out of the shadows came Roberto, holding a croquet mallet like a baseball bat, running up behind The Grandfather and the girl. The features of his face accentuated by the headlights of the car, it was contorted with all the homicidal fury of a Visigoth berzerka rampaging his way through Rome. As soon as he was within striking range, the mallet swept in an arc with brutal force into the opera singers right knee, with the force of the impact continuing through to the left leg. Understandably the girl fell and after 2 seconds of dumb, shocked , silence the girl let out the sort of wail and scream only a classically trained opera singer could produce.

    A pair of polypus dressing forceps were forced down into her throat; they clamped hold of her tongue and extracted it as far as it would stretch out of her mouth. I must take this opportunity to mention just how far the human tongue can be pulled clear of the mouth.

    The arrangements as to her fate had already been decided and to initiate the final act only took a slight nod from The Grandfather. Roberto, a man I had only talked to once so far, walked up to the girl then knelt down by her head. In one hand he held a croquet mallet and in the other something I would learn later called a winning peg, which he drove through her tongue and into the ground. Her current predicament now seriously restricted her ability to make much noise.

    I was then instructed to wait ten minutes before phoning for an ambulance and then to make my way to the restaurant. In this time The Grandfather and his cronies made a very relaxed almost lethargic get away from the crime scene. But of course for The Grandfather this was no crime, it represented no greater inconvenience than a speeding fine.

    I sat on my haunches looking down at the girl. Considering her injuries I was surprised by how little blood there was. Every so often she couldn’t help but whimper, even though to make any noise at all must have caused her excruciating pain. I encouraged her to stay still and that an ambulance would get here in the next half hour. Half an hour, when I said it I thought it would bring her some relief, looking back on it I can appreciate just how sadistic it must have sounded, what type of person waits to call an ambulance for someone in such a miserable condition? Apparently the sort of person that works for The Grandfather.

    As the years passed I would witness many more extreme acts of violence which didn’t require an ambulance. And the reason for The Grandfather’s brutal attack on the opera singer, nothing more than singing her cavatina flat. After all it was his favourite opera.

    Reply
  84. Cory Boisselle

    He had the ability to light up a room just by walking in. His humour was legendary, not because his jokes were so funny, but rather because of his joy in telling the story. You may not have laughed, but you always smiled. He always laughed.
    He was a pied piper as young people followed him wherever he went. He was a magnet attracting these young followers from the neighborhood, from his family. He didn’t necessarily seek them out, he just made himself available. He was always present, a constant they could count upon. He treated them as equals, as peers. He talked to 8 year olds with the same warmth and respect he would talk to any adult. He never talked down to them, he admired them, and shared their joy in just hanging out together.
    He was a teacher. It was his manner he couldn’t help it. No lectures, no constructed lessons necessary. Just life. The sharing of observations and experiences at a common level. At a level where he could and would learn at the same time as his young students.
    No matter who they were, he was Grandpa to them. Never Mr. B, and certainly never just Denis. And Uncle Denis didn’t have the same closeness or familiarity. The title and name Grandpa was perfect; because that’s exactly who he was. Blood relations had nothing to do with his title. But family absolutely did.
    His final family visit was Thanksgiving. The venue had changed just for him. His health was failing him, but that night his spirit soared. Maybe somewhere, he knew this would be his last get together with this group. His children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews from a couple of generations, and one great granddaughter. His entrance was anticipated by everyone. Like the true guest of honor, he arrived with great fanfare. His arrival was noticed as soon as the car drove to the front window. The grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews rushed to the door to welcome him to the event. Their pied piper had arrived.
    His adult children, nieces and nephews all stood back and watched. They watched how even in his weakened state, he commanded the room, and the young people led the charge. Grandpa was here, the evening could truly begin.
    I can’t begin to count the number of lessons I have learned just by watching this man. His manner, his style, his grace were all very noble… even when they weren’t. I learned humility and strength at the same time. I learned to listen, to reason, to observe not just react. I learned the power of a question as opposed to knowing the answer. I learned responsibility, respect and mostly I learned love.
    I really had no relationships with my grandparents that I can remember. I have to admit, I never appreciated the role of grandparents to their grandchildren until I had my own children and saw my parents execute their roles to perfection. I realized how much I missed out on.
    My father helped me grow to be the man that I am. He helped shape me to be the father I became. And he absolutely showed me the wonderful gift that being a Grandpa can be.

    Reply
  85. Brian Davis

    “God damn piece of shit. Can’t they make anything that doesn’t break after one season anymore!?” The lawn mower was a constant thorn in the old man’s side, but sometimes I think he enjoyed the company. “Blue! Bring me the socket wrench!” Silence. “Ah, well, I guess you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As the mut lazily opened his eyes to see what the commotion was about, never even considering lifting his head from the garage floor, the old man steadied himself on a workbench and slowly rose to his feet. His knees, not quite being what they used to, weren’t fond of fast movements or sudden impact. As he looked though his tool chest for the right sized socket, he breathed heavily as if he had just climbed a large flight of stairs.
    “Hey pops!” The old man continued digging in his tool chest. “What are you doing out in this heat? Its 90 degrees out here and you’re soaked in sweat! Let’s get you in the house and get something cool to drink, you’re likely to have a stroke out here!” Reluctantly the old man listened to his son; but not without voicing his opinion on the matter. “See that’s what’s wrong with your generation. You break a sweat and it’s time to throw in the towel instead of using it to..” “..dry off with. I know dad,” his son finished for him. The old timer was famous for repeating catch phrases about work and honor. “Yeah, well, maybe if you hear it enough times before I die you’ll learn something from it,” the old man grumbled.
    “What are you doing here anyway? Can’t a man maintain his yard without his son telling him he’s too old and frail?” “Well, actually dad, I wanted to talk to you about something. Linda and I have been thinking, and since mom’s passed away we know it’s gotta be hard for you to maintain this whole house and eat right and take care of everything on your own. It’s got to be a huge burden on you.” “Here we go…” The old man walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. “So you want to send me away to some geezer home, do ya?” The sound of a can of beer popping open illuminated the kitchen. “Well, we’ve just been looking into some options for you, there’s really a lot of great places available and the money isn’t an issue. I’ve brought some brochures over for us to look at if you…” The old man cut him off.
    “I’ll tell you what you can do for me. You can either find me a 5/8s socket, a dog who can find me a 5/8s socket, or you can leave me alone. I’m not going to spend the last few years of my life spending all my money in some home for incapable raisins doing crossword puzzles and watching jeopardy. And I’ll tell you another thing, this house isn’t half as hard to keep up with now that all you snot nose kids are out and your mother isn’t in the kitchen making a damn mess every day. I’m fine right where I’m at. Thanks for stopping by.”
    His son signed, thought for a minute and headed for the door. “Do you mind if I take a look at the mower on my way out?” The old man paused, a callused look on his face as if he had been duped. The cold beer was refreshing, however, and he had already eased into his recliner. Standing up would take some effort. “Don’t break anything,” he replied. “You even know how to use one of them things?” “I’m sure I can figure it out, dad.” Within minutes he heard the mower running and looked out the window to see his boy mowing his yard. Finally, it was safe for the old man to let a look of pride spread across his face without being seen. “I did it,” he thought to himself.

    Reply
  86. victoria cluck

    I’d never met my grandfathers. Either of them. They were mysteries to me growing up. Men of great power? Or men of great shame? It seemed to be a bit of both. My mother hinted at domestic abuse, while my father hinted at his mothers promiscuity. Neither seemed like things I further wanted to delve into. But it certainly put aspects of my parents personalities into drastic relief. I suddely saw why they behaved the way they did. I suddenly became a child pshycologist in my own right. Quite certain I had everything figured out. I did not however, see myself walking into the same lonely path of ignorance and self assurance. I didn’t see my anger. An anger I’d often seen displayed in my mothers eyes. Coulf it be that all this mishap stemmed from an old man I’d never met. She seemed to have a distaste for my father. Did this come from a general distaste with the state of her own mothers life as a child herself? I still haven’t stopped wondering these things into adulthood. Who were these mysterious men who came and provided the much needed genetic material to create the days, visions memories, and moments I now call my life. Who are they. Who were they? Why is the past so shrouded to us human beings. Why are we left to wander in a vast darkness searching for answers? Does it all come down to grandfathers? The men that came and lived before us. I’ve never called a man grandfather. I don’t know the sensation of a father figure other than my own. I never even considered this before this very moment. This very prompt that led me to fall into a vicious though pattern of GrandFathers.

    Reply
  87. SD98

    Repetition is not only in books in my family. My grandfather seems to have taken this literary devise and applied it to his own life. He is a man of few words, but with these words he shuffles them like a deck of cards. Every Sunday when I make my way through the clear glass door and into his presence he says “how’s it going Shelby D?” and I respond with “good Pappy D”. With this routined phrase follows a few more. It’s a simple relationship one like a puzzle thousands of parts, but the same no matter how many times you put it together. Life moves and life shifts, but our relationship stays the same. The constancy is what I’ll miss most when he’s gone. Knowing that the scene of the movie that is my life is not missing, but gone.

    Reply
    • SD98

      Thoughts?

      Reply
  88. Noe L Lemuya

    A close friends grandparent passed away and it got me thinking about one of my grandfathers who passed on a few years ago of all my grandparents he is the only one who i spent quite a lot of time with and i could say i knew well.

    Eccentric and charismatic those are two words i could use to describe my granddad starting with his name like most luhyas (a bantu tribe in kenya) was something to think about and the way he said it was equally interesting Sophas Akanga Tsindoli. I remember cringing everytime he had to introduce himself it was almost like he was making a declaration and it sounded very weird to me.part of his eccentric nature was in the way he named his children some of my aunts and my mother have unique names and upto we keep on wondering where he got them.he was a creative person a tailor actually and this talent trickled down to my aunts and my mother and some of it to us the grandchildren i love fashion and trying to sew clothes though i haven’t perfected it.

    He was very approachable particularly to us his grandchildren it was always a pleasure having him around since you could see the pride he had in having seen us growing up and trying to make it out in life.in his last days he was ill and had to stay with my family for a while it was interesting having to take care of him he was stubborn didn’t want to eat or would eat very little,but most of all he wanted to be in his house i guess with age you get attached to the comforts related to your own space and nothing compares to that.in hindsight i think he knew his time was up and he needed to be in his home to enjoy his last moments.

    His death was sudden we knew he was about to go but still it was a shock and his funeral was more of a celebration of a life well lived he left everything in order and had talked to each of his children. Though he left us his spirit lives in each one of us through his many traits passed down the family line.

    Reply
  89. Pam Babcock

    Their eyes met. Suddenly, he felt a little feeling creeping up, just a tiny sliver of an emotion. What was it? He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He thought back, back to last week, back to 10 years ago, back and back. He was once again 7 years old, playing in the yard in front of the kitchen window. But he was still trying to place that feeling, that emotion. And there it was, just a tiny little movement inside of him. That feeling, it was joy. And as he just enjoyed the moment, the joy spread, and spread, not overwhelming, just there. It was at that moment that he realized how tired he was, how exhausted. He decided at that moment, that no matter , he would keep this little spark, this little emotion with him forever.
    Their eyes met. Suddenly, he felt a little feeling creeping up, just a tiny sliver of an emotion. What was it? He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. He thought back, back to last week, back to 10 years ago, back and back. He was once again 7 years old, playing in the yard in front of the kitchen window. But he was still trying to place that feeling, that emotion. And there it was, just a tiny little movement inside of him. That feeling, it was joy. And as he just enjoyed the moment, the joy spread, and spread, not overwhelming, just there. It was at that moment that he realized how tired he was, how exhausted. He decided at that moment, that no matter , he would keep this little spark, this little emotion with him forever.

    Reply
  90. Reid Lovett

    My grandfather looks tired. With the lines of age seeping into his worn out skin, and hands that tremble when performing stupid simple actions, and a voice that cracks like logs on a fire. He looks worn out, looks like he could sleep for years and never even turn. He looks like a book that has told it’s story to a vast number of children, or like a wedding gown that has been passed down from grandmother to mother, and from mother to daughter. He looks worn, frail, and above all? He looks tired.
    Of course, no one blames him for that. He’s worn the badges of many wars, and sought the hearts of many women, and done it all with that green twinkle in his eyes. He’s been alive for years, held the memories of a darker time for decades, seen genocides and shootings, killed men for higher powers that had so little courage they forced working men into their dirty work. Of course he’s tired, of course he wants to rest.
    So no one blames him for falling asleep at birthday parties, or or dozing off at Sunday sermons. He’s not the only bored one, he’s not the only one who didn’t want to go, but he is more tired. So he gets to sleep, and we get to wake him up.
    And we all speak of him like he’s an ancient figure, like there were statues of him in early Rome, but I remember a time when he was full of life. When he would take me into the city and challenge the street mimes and give to the beggars. I remember days where he would tell my brother and I war stories while we sat next to a dropping Christmas tree all wrapped in matching pajamas. I remember how his eyes would shine at the mention of a fighter jet, and how his smile would grow fond when he spoke of the men he lost in the second world war.
    I remember days when my grandfather wasn’t tired, and I remember them with a painful clarity.

    Reply
    • Jordan

      Love the descriptions in the beginning!

      Reply
  91. Samantha Jo Davis

    In a story about a family together on a beach somewhere, Pawpaw sits and smiles upon his energetic descendants while they swim into waves, get sandy, laugh, and nearly always fight about something but make up later. Pawpaw sits and smiles, an available and inviting lap for the little ones. And for the older kids, constant encouragement for their vibrant ideas, hearty laughs at their jokes and a hand to squeeze each time ashore. Pawpaw stands and smiles sometimes, too. He takes his turn being strong in the sea and meandering along shore smiling at rocks, but Pawpaw saw most of the beach while running this morning before family ever awoke. Now he sits and smiles, a jubilant and gracious rock for his family on a beach somewhere. One day they will be all that is left of him and he is thankful already. He does have a favorite though, the littlest one, his grand-daughter…

    Reply
  92. Rachael Anderson

    It was 6 months ago that Grandpa took his last breath. He was in a rickety old bed, in an old folks home, surrounded by the women who loved him, Granny, Mum, my Aunty and I. I spent time that day, and the previous days holding his hand and talking to him. Telling him how much I loved him. Just the squeeze of my hand, which was all he could manage, told me that he felt them same. I was always his favourite (one and only) grand daughter.

    Rewind about 9 months, Grandpa had was at home and living independently with Granny. He was a little forgetful but it wasn’t that bad. One night he got taken to hospital for a little blood in his stool and he never came home again. The antibiotics, the painkillers and the solitude brought along early on set dementia. His mood swings meant that staff couldn’t walk him or do any physio with him and after a couple of months (full of hallucinations and some crazy conversations about running in to the strawberry fields and stealing strawberries) he could no longer walk and Granny was unable to care for him at home.

    It was a hard year and we all visited him as much as we could. But he was just existing in his body. A body that used to be a leather worker, boot maker, artist, craftsman, dancer, lawn bowler, fisherman, husband, dad and grandfather. There was no quality of life and it was really hard to watch someone so loved be so frail.

    This was my Grandpa. The only constant man in my life from birth. He was more of a Dad to me, than my actual Dad and we spent many many hours hanging out. I would turn his comb-over in to a mohawk and we would watch Doctor Who together every week. Doctor Who was a highlight. Grandpa would sit in ‘his lounge chair’ with his feet on the stool. I would sit on his lap and just as I got comfy, he would open his legs so I fell on the floor. He repeated this for ages, and I kept climbing back on to his lap and thought it was hilarious every time it happened.

    We spent countless hours in the backyard in his workshed, him making amazing leather goods and fixing boots and shoes, and me stamping all the off cuts like I knew what I was doing. A few years ago, he gave me a leather bag he made in the 70’s or 80’s. There’s nothing in my house I love more than that.

    Grandpa could never get mad at me, even though he tried quite a few times, I had a link direct to his heart and that won over every time. Life is life, and nothing in life is permanent. Everything passes, good or bad, so I cherish each and every moment that we spent together and I hope that everyone gets to experience a love like this.

    Reply
  93. Rachael Anderson

    I just found this page – would love some feedback – go easy on me, im new 😉 hehe

    Reply
  94. Jordan

    15 minutes – please critique!

    Immortality is just the memories people have of us after we
    die. In a twisted sense of irony, we find out who we are after we are gone.
    Sadly, I don’t think I do my grandfather justice. Unless I call some distant
    family member that I haven’t spoken with since his wake, I couldn’t tell you
    his first name. I only remember him as “Papa Hat,” probably for the veteran
    U.S. Airforce hat he always wore. He was probably my favorite person on the
    planet as I was growing up. I can hardly remember one conversation with him,
    yet we had reached an understanding deeper than most. He would pick me up from
    preschool in his shiny new white 1995 Ford Taurus and always brought a small
    stash of my favorite crème-filled cookies. I remember sitting in awe at the
    foot of his rocking chair, his hands deftly sculpting a paper airplane out of
    the closest piece of reading material. It was our little ritual before my
    parents dragged me home – run out to the front yard and throw the plane off the
    porch to see if it went further than the last.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15
Share to...