An Afternoon With Grandfather

When I was growing up I thought everyone in the world called their father’s parents:  Grandmother and Grandfather.

And everyone in the world called their mother’s parents:  Grandma and Grandpa.

In my head it just made sense.

In my head it still makes sense.

So for future reference for all of you, you now know the difference between my paternal and maternal grandparents.

One afternoon I went to sit with my Grandfather while everyone else was out running their errands.  Just me and Grandfather.  He was as frail as I had ever seen him.   More frail than I ever wanted to see him.  Yet it was probably the only time I remember having Grandfather all to myself.  And I am glad I did.

We sat in the front room.  Not the room that we usually sat in.  But the more formal sitting room.  The one that looked out on to the front porch.  Where, if you chose, you could sit and watch the never ending busy traffic hurrying back and forth in front of the house.  We could sit on the porch and see our childhood church and our childhood grade school.

I don’t ever remember opting to do that in this house.  We always sat in the other room, the room with the TV, or the kitchen.  Or even the screened in back porch.

But that day he and I sat in the front room, on the long sofa.

I was not in-tune with all of the knowledge and history Grandfather held.  Why oh why didn’t I know to ask more?   Why didn’t I close my eyes and revel in  his story telling!

Because I was young.  Ignorant.  I didn’t know any better.

But this day I must have had a moment of clarity because when it was just us, I asked him.  How did you meet Grandmother?

And he told me.  And I loved it.  He met her on a blind date.  And they went with another couple.  In a car.   A car?  I was surprised.  And if I remember correctly, which I don’t know if I have romanticized it or he actually told me, but I picture them in a very large car.  I know it was a convertible.  At least it didn’t have a top.  I don’t know if that was called a convertable back then.  He didn’t tell me some of the details I wished he would have.    And I wouldn’t have asked.  Not then, but now?  I definitely would!

But the best part of the story?

Grandfather was smiling.  He was sitting there in his pajamas and robe.  Very regal.  Very proper.  Talking softly.  Remembering his girl.  Remembering meeting her.  She wasn’t there to share the memory with him.  Which likely made it all the more of a tender memory.

By that time Grandfather wasn’t talking a lot.  Which is saying a lot, because he never really said a lot when we were gathered as a crowd.  He smiled a lot.  Listened a lot.  And by then Grandfather may not have been remembering a lot either.  But he remembered his girl.  And his meeting her.

And while Grandfather and I each envisioned his story, likely with some differences, likely with some similarities, he gifted me with something else.  A wonderful moment.  A wonderful memory.  An afternoon, a moment in the afternoon with Grandfather that is dearly mine.  Mine to tell my own grandchildren.   When they sit with me and ask me about my life.