Well I moved. Packed up, threw stuff in a container headed north to God’s country. Or as you may call it, Virginia. I don’t know if it’s quite God’s country. I’m not quite sure what that term really means. Virginia is my country though. I like it. I know people there. While I am sad to leave behind so many lovely people in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, I really think this is for the best. I could go into more detail about my reasons for leaving but I fear they are pretty predictable. Sad widower being sad and needing to get away, blah blah blah. I’ve really got to get out of this sad bastard style of writing that I have found myself in. I’ve become Kafkaesque….and pretentious.
So with that in mind, instead of talking about the sad things that made me leave the deep south, I’m going to talk about happy things that called me back to the motherland. This is part one of a series. I shall call it, “Happy things that lured me back to the Motherland.”
I get to hangout with my grandfather. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, my grandfather is one of the kindest, funniest, and most badass individuals you could meet. Currently he resides in a retirement community. He has dementia. To some people that might seem like a drag, but what can you do? He is still fun to talk to. He forgets things and asks the same question every five minutes. After awhile I start coming up with new careers. So far I’ve been a doctor, accountant and a lawyer. He was very proud of me all three times. Sometime he asks if I’m married. Normally I’ll say no but sometimes I tell him about Emily, to which he responds. “I’m sorry, son.”It seems like a simple response and though my grandfather met Emily several times I am not sure if he really remembers her. But the warmth and sincerity of his tone tells me that he hurts because I hurt, my troubles are his troubles. Then I show him a picture of her. He says something to lighten the mood, “She was beautiful. How’d you manage to get her?”
Despite sitting through a literal Groundhogs Day scene I love talking to him. He tells a hell of a story. In 83 years this man has seen and done a lot. He still remembers some of it. Mostly important stuff, like what kind of beer he drank in Vietnam and what kind of fish he caught in Lake Mendota in the 1940s. He can tell you about the fear and dread of being captured in East Germany in 1958 and the elation of being released months later and seeing his wife and young son. He remembers the challenge of dropping mail and supplies from an L-19 Birddog to remote Special Forces camps in places “he doesn’t remember.” He definitely remembers the horror and carnage of seeing bodies stacked up like cordwood after failed enemy attacks on fire bases. He remembers that war is horrible and stupid. He remembers that all any man has in this world that’s of true value is the love of family and friends. He remembers the love and loyalty of dogs that have been gone for 15 or 20 years.He remembers that his father worked three jobs during the Great Depression to support his family. He remembers his wife of 58 years and that who he is and what he has done is a direct result of a strong and loving partner. And he remembers his grandson and he is happy to see him.
So yeah. I’m going to spend as much time with him as I can. He is going to wingman for me as I hit on the good looking nurses and physical therapists. I’m going to sneak him wine and pipe tobacco. Apparently he isn’t allowed to have either. I call bullshit on that policy. I say that but what do I know? Very little. I’m doing it anyway.
More to follow….