I don’t honestly remember my grandfather too well. Hell, the last conversation I had with him was probably when I was fifteen (and who remembers that shit). I wasn’t close with him. I don’t know his middle name. And truth be told, if we didn’t have the same last name, I wouldn’t be sure of that either.
Is it sad that I’m not sadden by the actuality of his death? Don’t get me wrong, I will grieve in nothing but the upmost respect, and will honor his life in the best way I know how… but… I didn’t know him. At all. It’s unfortunate, but true. A few years ago, I had this hinkling notion that maybe I should visit my grandfather. I was curious. I am young, and lost. I wanted to bond with family more, and who better to bond with but the man who brought the man who raised me? I wanted to ask him questions.
“When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?”
“Was my grandmother the love of your life?”
“What was/is the best memory you have?”
“What was/is the worst?”
“What can you tell me… to help me?”
I never knew my grandparents. Any of them. On either my mother or my father’s side. They were just people. My mom’s dad died when my mother was young. My mom’s mom died when I was about seven. My dad’s mom died when I was fifteen, and now my dad’s dad died when I’m twenty-two. It’s been the only time I feel equipped to handle and understand it.
Am I sad? Yes. Maybe not in the healthiest of manners, though. I’m sad because I’ll never get to know this man. A stoic man. A man who my father recollects as having a very bold, stern, ‘grow-up’ attitude. But he was gold. This man instilled an idea into my father and his siblings how to be. How to yearn for a better life. A stronger attitude. A loving word.
I never knew my grandfather, but I loved him. And I knew he loved me. Even though he never learned how to show it.
His face built out of the steel he used to drive in the old GM plant. A man of few sentences and even fewer words, but when he spoke — you knew to listen.
He was on the balcony smoking a cigarette in his lawn chair, and I was indoors working on a puzzle. He called my name, “Toby!” I distinctly remember walking to the balcony door hesitant, because I didn’t believe he actually called for me.
As I creeped my head out the door I asked, “Yes, sir?”
“I want you to have this.” Without eye contact, he reached into his breast pocket, pulled out the gold dollar, and handed it to me.
“Thank you…..” I said, looking at this man with his eyes still forward.
Then he grunts. And I walk away.
I love you, too.