So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Sunday, October 21, 2012
When I was a little kid my grandfather would sometimes get child care duties. He was a great grandfather, from a kid’s point of view. He always had time to play games or whittle whistles from tree branches.
My grandfather had suffered a horrible industrial accident. His head was crushed and he lost an eye. Considering the state of medical science of the day, he should have died. His recovery was slow and he’d suffered brain damage. He lost his native language and could only speak English. There were personality changes. I’m told that after the accident he tended to be a lot more irresponsible than before. He was still a great guy, but started drinking and would occasionally fail to come home for an extra day or so.
Of course, he should have been dead so nobody really complained all that much. Eventually he was fitted with a glass eye and went back to work.
Granddad would still take his afternoon nap when he was supposed to be watching me. He told me that he’d learned to sleep with one eye open so don’t get into any trouble. As a little kid, I didn’t know he had a glass eye. When he slept that eye would stay about half open. It kinda freaked me out and I made sure to behave. I also wasted a lot of time trying to learn to sleep with one eye open.
My grandfather never learned to drive, so he walked everywhere to do his errands, with me in tow. We went to the most interesting places like smoke shops and bars. Every neighborhood had their little mom and pop stores. Many of them also had back rooms where men would drink and play cards. Now as a little kid, all I knew about these places is that there were not the sort of places mom took me to. There were the sort of places war vets with a hook for a hand, or a eye patch or wooden leg hung out. Rough men with interesting tales to tell -that I usually was too young to understand.
One of the fun places was the hobo village down by the railroad tracks. We couldn’t tell grandma where we’d been, so that was special too. A bunch of old hobos sort of retired and build shacks to live in, located next to the tracks and the dump. My granddad would often stop to visit one of his hobo friends there and share a glass of cheap whiskey. For me, it was cool that someone could live in a shack and find neat stuff in the dump. It all looked like fun.
Eventually his injuries caught up with him and he died at the young age of 75. That really was a young age in his family. Many of the relatives at his funeral were well up in the 90s. They just shook their heads and said it was sad that he’d died just when life started to get good.
Maybe he wasn’t the most responsible adult in the world, but he always had time for me. For a kid, that’s pretty special.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.