...About My Maternal Grandfather
My grandpa was born in 1922. He served in the army from 1942-1946. He was in Europe for a while, in France. Once he found an accordion in a haystack. According to my grandma, he painted tanks and equipment over there. She says he also helped shuttle people out of work camps when the war ended.
My grandparents married in 1943. They had five children together; four boys, and one girl - my mother. I was born in 1980. Grandpa died in 1984.
These are my memories. Some may be mixed with things I've been told over the years. Others may be tainted by an aging brain. Even so, this is what I've got.
-Driving with him to Senn's drive-in dairy and buying milk in glass bottles.
-Eating orange creamsicles at my grandparents' dining room table and him teaching me to chant "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!"
-"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
-Playing with wooden blocks at their house. There was one with a bored hole in the side and sometimes Grandpa would hide treats in there. One of my older cousins, I believe, had dubbed gumdrops and such "Sums," and Grandpa called them that, so I did also.
-One time he had me count the keys on their piano. I counted the whites, then the blacks. He wrote my collected totals (miscounted) on the side of the block box and then added them up. According to our scribbles, pianos have 73 keys.
-My family lived with my grandparents for a few months in 1984 when we were preparing to move homes. We were there for Easter and they hid eggs for me to find. Their front door had (well, still has) a miniature door in it that serves as a peephole. There was an egg there. I was amused.
-He had a big van that he drove. I remember one time sitting behind him in the van and admiring how you could see his ears from the back, which is another way of staying they stuck out.
-In May of 1984, when I was three years old, we took a trip to Arizona and California -- my parents, my grandparents, my baby brother and me. The six of us in a station wagon. We have pictures of us in front of the Grand Canyon. At Knott's Berry Farm I was set upon the Ferris Wheel, absolutely smushed between my two grandparents. At least I wasn't in danger of falling out.
-I found out he died the morning after it happened. I woke up and went into my parents' room and they were both on their bed. They told me grandpa had died. I was barely four, I didn't get it. We went over to my grandparents' house later that day and I remember looking for my grandpa, the way I had always done when I went over there. Maybe he was in a back bedroom? Maybe he was working downstairs? But he wasn't there, and then it kind of hit me.
I'm grateful for the four years I got to spend with him, though I wish it could have been longer.