Alexander the Great
I know he’s here. Usually unseen, usually unheard, forever a part of me.
Before I knew him, my grandfather was a difficult man. A raging alcoholic, youngest child of ten, product of the Great Depression. He knew what it was to go without.
And yet, generations and situations apart, there was an unbreakable bond between us that I will always cherish. We just sort of got each other, you know?
By the time I came around, he was sober. I never knew the difficult man my mom tells me stories about. Admittedly, some of them were pretty funny, but I’m glad they were just stories.
Anyway, right from the start, I’m told that he was always hovering over me, worried for me. I think part of it was the adoption, that first year. Back in the 70’s, I think the social worker was required to do semi-regular check ins and evaluations, and had up to a year to take the child back if things weren’t going well. I guess this fear of having me taken from him made the connection stronger.
My fondest and earliest memories all involve him. I always felt he was not only by my side, but on my side. He was the most charming, personable man I’ve ever known. I remember our annual trip to the Shrine Circus. The lazy summer days playing cribbage at the lake. How he used to make the fish talk and my Dad crazy as my Dad tried to filet them. How nothing ever got done until he had a cigarette and a coffee.
Being especially happy when he picked me up from swim practice, because it meant we were probably going to Arby’s for dinner. His creepy basement with the strange playroom at the far end. His jars of coins hidden all over the house. Him calling my pet ferret a ratfink. Telling me I was a little “ruby” (chubby), but that it was ok with him. Stopping for ice cream on the way to the lake and not telling my parents. How he always threw the end of the cone out the window.
I remember every birthday and Christmas. Learning how to drive on gravel highway with him trying to make light of what a shitty job I was doing, while holding on to the “oh shit” handle for dear life. Never being able to go anywhere without him bumping into someone he knew. Picking mushrooms in the fall and being to chicken to eat them.
Those last few weeks when he was in hospital. The brief moment he came out of his coma when we were alone. Those last moments when I told him to let go. The phone call a few hours later.
I remember it all.
And I remember trying for what seemed like forever to conceive the Destroyer, and the dream I had a couple weeks before we found out she was coming. He told me I was having a baby, and he told me it was a girl. He was there the whole time, and he still is.
And now, knowing that my son will affect my life at least as much as this man before him, Grampy’s name will be passed to him as a middle name. Knowing that he was such a huge part of who I have become, and that he will inevitably be a part of the son I will raise.
To make sure there is always a part of him near.