30-Day Writing Challenge: Day 24

Prompt: Something you miss.

There are lots of things I miss: summer, aspects of my childhood, the way the cut grass smelled on the back school playground. But most of all, I miss my grandfather. Here we are when I was tiny. He is probably telling me a joke or naming all the plants outside or poking fun at someone walking by. He always had that mischievous look on his face.

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He was my Groucho Marks. Funny, silly, stubborn, multi-talented. He retired early from the National Weather Bureau in DC and threw himself into retirement with gusto. He had a love for Japanese culture, “adopted” a Japanese family, and raised bonsai trees. He loved shopping at Kmart. His kitchen cabinets were filled with cans he’d written the purchase date on so he’d know how old they were and wouldn’t accidentally die of food poisoning. I wonder if packaged food had expiration dates on them back then? Even it they did, he wrote his own dates with a black permanent marker. He loved those blue tins of Danish butter cookies. And butter pecan ice cream. And soft serve ice cream after a McDonald’s breakfast. He was a lifetime member of the Smithsonian with an underground parking space (which seemed much more exclusive when I was a kid that it really was). He was Jewish but an agnostic Jew who loved Christmas. He sent Christmas cards every year to a long list of people and would keep a tally of who sent him one in return. If they didn’t, he’d cross them off his list for next year. This list was kept on his refrigerator next to the very long list of magazines he subscribed to. I mean, 30 or 40 subscriptions.

He doted on me and my sister and would sing us songs while strumming his mandolin. Sometimes he’d do a little dance. His house was covered in dust – he was too busy and too much of an old fashioned bachelor (despite having been married to my grandmother for roughly 20 years before she died in 1974) to clean house – but it was filled with interesting and exotic things. Reproduction tribal African masks, glass paper weights, one of those glass birds that bob down into a cup of water, a greenhouse filled with plants like a jungle attached to the enclosed porch next to the kitchen, an old wooden coffee grinder, my grandmother’s glass eye (which I wasn’t supposed to find; I was a super nosy child).

I think about him every day. He would have adored my children. He and Red are so similar and they would have been thick as thieves. He died on 11/11/85 at 64 years old. Way, way too young. I miss his stories of growing up in New York City, the son of a jeweler who supposedly left Russia around the time of the Russian Revolution (I don’t know if this is accurate but it’s what I remember being told). He died before I could ask him more, pay attention to what he did tell me, write it all down. One day I’ll do some research and see if I can discover more.

I wish he was here today. He loved Thanksgiving and insisted we save him the legs. He was a dark meat fan. The holiday isn’t the same without him.

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