Gramma, Great-Gramma, Mom, Me and Grandpa
My grandfather died on this day 20 years ago. I can sort of remember his voice. Every now and then I have a dream about him. His voice never sounds quite right, so I always know I’m dreaming when I see him.
Grandpa was a sailor in World War II. He and Gramma had three kids. He had a drinking problem during the 1950s, but quit after Gramma threatened to leave him. He was a gravedigger at one point. He loved country music, particularly George Strait. Somehow he was distantly related to Buffalo Bill Cody. (It’s one of those family myths whose veracity I’ve never bothered to confirm.)
He had a short fuse and yelled a lot, but had a large heart. He was friendly and profane. Whenever he farted, he would blame the spiders under his chair.
He would clear the dinner table after he finished eating, even though he finished first and we weren’t done yet.
We watched Match Game together in the afternoons after school. We watched a lot of baseball and a lot of hockey together, too; he was a fan of the Boston Braves even after they ended up in Atlanta. I watched the 1986 World Series with him and I still remember him turning the TV off after the Red Sox choked in Game Six, muttering, “Well, they figured out how to blow it again.”
Grandpa, Gramma, me, and Nana
He loved to go out to eat. We used to drive up to my grandparents’ house in New Hampshire together and he would point out every good restaurant we drove by. My parents called it “the Bob Tour.”
He died in a Rexall after having breakfast, contrary to what his obituary states. The newspaper spelled my hometown of Worcester wrong, so what do they know?
At Grandpa’s wake, we had pictures of him blown up and mounted on posters that we had on display around the funeral parlor. Gramma came up to me and pointed out a picture of him from when he was in his early 20s, and she pointed out how much I looked like him. She said, “It’s amazing, isn’t it? And now you know what you will look like when you’re dead, too!”
Some things feel like they happened only yesterday. But it’s been so long since I’ve seen Grandpa that I can feel every one of the 20 years that have passed. I miss him a lot still. I might wish that I could have had one more chance to see him before he died, but that one last chance would not have been enough. It would just replace the actual last time I saw him and that’s it. I’m lucky I had all the time with him that I did, and I’m grateful.