Friday, June 4, 2010

Grandpa, Still Gone And Still Not Forgotten

Today marks the second anniversary of my grandfather's death. It seems a little odd that one year ago when I wrote up a blog entry recalling some of my favorite memories relating to my grandfather, I remember feeling a fire inside of me. It was as if my fingers couldn't type fast enough and in one fell swoop, everything that had been pent up in my brain and simmering for so long just flowed from my fingertips to the keyboard, already edited and ready for publication.

Today's entry has not been as forthcoming. It isn't that there is a lack of stories I could recall. Oh, no, I've got plenty of those. I simply think that I may have moved on in the grieving process and while I do really miss my grandfather, I firmly believe that I've stopped mourning for him. I miss him, sure, but the pain has subsided. Actually, I don't even know if that's the right way to say it, because before my grandfather, I'd never lost someone so close to me. All I know is that a year ago, I had angst. Now? Not so much.

My grandmother and I sit around now and occasionally bring up how much he used to like to both grill outdoors and enjoy his Manhattans, speculating that he may have liked the cocktails a touch more than the cooking. I remember doing post-dinner walks with my grandfather when I was a little boy, exploring the new housing developments that had sprung up near their home on Dohner Drive. My grandfather was in the habit of chewing on scallions to keep the mosquitoes at bay. I don't know what kind of repelling effect it had on the mosquitoes, but I'm sure my grandmother wasn't too fond of it.

I have fond memories of butter basted eggs in the morning; not-so-fond memories of ham salad sandwiches for lunch, perched in front of the large console television set watching Dorothy Fuldheim on the mid-day Channel 5 news; the ever present mid-afternoon Shirley Temple, my glass of lemon-lime soda studded with as many of the maraschino cherries as I could humanly fit (and that my grandparents would allow); and the occasional snack I would enjoy in the evenings, when a favorite past-time of my grandmother's was to play Down And Out, a dice game where you roll and move sliding tiles.

My grandparents' house was where I learned what Peter Pan peanut butter tasted like. Our house had always been a JIF household, and the notion that all peanut butter was NOT created equal was somewhat of a revelation to me at such a young age. To this day, even though when I have a choice I will pick an all natural peanut butter, I can always tell when a restaurant uses Peter Pan. It has a very particular sweet and salty flavor to it.

I think what I will always regret, and I suppose this must be the final stage of grief, is that I won't be able to share those communal experiences, like eating and talking, with my grandfather anymore. I speculated a year ago and I think it is still an appropriate notion that my grandfather would be, if nothing else, fascinated by the idea of what this blog has turned into. He would've even been more fascinated to learn that through such little promotion of my own, I have managed to attract a core of loyal readers.

I don't know that he would've understood the technological components behind writing a blog (my grandmother has a very tenuous grasp on the concept at best), and I don't know that I would've wanted to get into another, "But what the hell is DOT COM?" two-hour discussion with him, but I think the underlying principle that I've somehow shared my experiences with you is an idea he could connect with strongly.

My grandfather and I disagreed on a lot of topics, politics being among the most common. And I will concede that we even had differing opinions on some aspects of food. He was always of the opinion that the potato should come on a plate separate from the meat and a sprig of parsley was all that was required to dress up a nice steak. Personally, I enjoy a plate with a bit of height and pizazz. But the one place where we always came together was on taste. He may not have known much about how to prepare most food, but he knew a good plate of food when it was put in front of him.

Once again I will find myself in the not-so-uncommon position of being at the Velvet Tango Room after work today and I intend to enjoy a Tango Manhattan on his behalf.

Grandpa, I just wanted you to know that I'm trying my best to take care of Grandma with the time she has left here with us and that we are looking forward to that point in the future when you two can be the loving and cantankerous couple once again.


Mahala said...

Beautiful tribute. He is, not doubt, very proud of you. They are always with us, even after they leave.

Kathy said...

What a great post Tom! Thanks for sharing that bit of yourself with us. I write about my Grandmother from time to time on my blog too and the influence she's had on me both personally and culinarily (is that a word?). Your love for your Grandfather and Grandmother who is still with you, shows. For me, I wish everyone could have known my Grandmother =)

Becky said...

What a beautiful and most accurate tribute to your Grandpa, son...he would be so proud of you and loved you so much while he was with us on earth. You were his pride and joy and I still recall him doing the "Teaberry Twist" dance the day you were born! It really touched my heart when you told him you are trying your best to take care of Grandma...what a loving grandson and son you are and I love you very much!


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