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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grandfather


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.

-Sixbears

16 comments:

  1. Sounds like a pretty good guy to me!

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  2. He sounds like a person who was worth knowing.

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  3. Me too, those places you visited sound very interesting.

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    1. They certainly were. It was the secret world of men.

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  4. My maternal grandfather was special. He spent time with me and taught me many things.

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    1. Now that I'm a grandfather, I'm spending time with my grandkids.

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  5. I love interesting people like your Grandfather. As kids, we learned so much from our Grand parents. We need to do the same with our Grand Kids.

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    1. It's our duty to be as crazy and interesting as they were. :)

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  6. Sometimes kids can see the worth of folks that others have chosen to ignore.

    I've said that if you want to know the truth, ask a child or an elder! Oldsters have earned the right to tell it like it is, and many kids haven't learned the "art" of telling lies!

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    1. I love that kids don't have all the social filters in place yet.

      Then again, my lovely wife never did get all of those. She's honest to a fault.

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  7. Grandparants and grandkids are both very special.

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    1. It's a special bond between the two.

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  8. I really enjoyed your grandfather story. I had a grandma with one brown eye and one blue eye. Of course as a young child I was fascinated and always thought she was extra special. Of course she was, she was my grandma.

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