Whereas Grandma taught me to go to church, how to garden, the best places to find newborn kitties on a farm, Grandad taught me to shoot pool, to drink Shirley Temples and to lie to Grandma about where we'd been ("We just went into town to get water for the well. I have no idea why we smell like the pool hall!") He drove an old pick up truck way too fast and often on the wrong side of the road. He always used a toothpick and he never called my sister or me by name. We were always, affectionately, and nondescriptly, "Kid".
In addition to the baby, he has buried two grown children, a son, a daughter and more recently, his wife of nearly 70 years. He has lived in a nursing home for the past many years but is still sharp as a tack if only he could hear all your questions. You can see Grandma's old apartment out the back through his window. She used to visit him every day the weather would permit her to walk across the lawn and would watch for his light to go off in the evening.
This past weekend, I rode along with my sister and her family to celebrate Grandad's 90th birthday. Officially, he turned 90 on July 28th. As one of the nurses pointed out, we were "late". Grandad simply smiled and adamantly reminded her, "But they're here." He wanted nothing more than to be taken outside in the sweltering heat to sit in the gazebo. A simple but rare treat.
My sister had ordered cake. Enough to feed the entire town, it would seem, but well worth seeing my Grandad's lips turn green from the icing.
Being a diabetic, he shouldn't have been allowed a first piece, but when you're 90, I think you deserve the right to choose for yourself. And Grandad chose to have a second piece. And a third. And he scolded my sister for wiping the icing off his arm saying, "I was saving that for later!"
We saw my uncle, Grandad's only surviving child, the one relative we feared the most when we were kids. Not because he was particularly scary, just that we only saw him when he came in for supper and he would come through the house hunting us down and tickling us when he did find us and we thought that was scary enough. Birdy and George will never have such fearful memories of their great-uncle. They love his teases and tickles!It was a great day spent with a great man. A man I thought was old even when I was very young. I am grateful for all the years since that have given me a chance to grow old with this man I love.
Happy Birthday, Grandad!