Just got up and shit, getting old sucks. Aches and pains, bad foots and back, throat feels like I half swallowed a dozen oysters. Crap!
Sunday used to be fun. Back in the day, my grandpa would take my next younger brother, Neil and I to a little cafe on Main St. for breakfast. He alternated weekends with my sisters. We would order whatever we wanted as long as we ate it. I would get french toast, french fries and a vanilla shake, my brother would order french fries and a bowl of chili with a chocolate shake. These weren't the wimpy, fake milk bullshit shakes you get at McDonald's but the home blended kind made from scoops of ice fucking CREAM. They would pour it into those special glasses with whipped cream and a cherry and give you the extra still in the metal mixing cup.
Damn, ain't had one of those in years. Probably give me gas.
As we scarfed our meal, Grandpa would give us a quarter for the jukebox. Back in 1969, it was good for three songs. The deal was that we would have to play 'G8' and pick two others we wanted. I have a disagreement with my brother as what song that was. I know it was by Engelbert Humperdinck but the song is in dispute. I think is was either "Am I That Easy to Forget" or "Release Me". Neil says it may have been Tom Jones and the song was "Delilah". Although that song's more popular, I know that my memory is correct.
What were we talking about? Oh Yeah!
Grandpa passed away in 1971. Good man who loved his grandkids, all 8 of them. You see, Grandpa liked to drink a few beers with his buddies on Saturday night. Sometimes quite a few. Dad would get a call from the bar to come and take him home. On Sunday morning, he would show up, take either the boys or the girls in tow and head out to the Diner. I remember Mom always in a piss-poor mood when we left.
Years later, long after he had died, she told us Grandpa was hung over and needed something to eat, so he just took us with him. But I don't think it was just convenience that brought us along. Mom wasn't there as we ate. Grandpa would talk to us, ask us questions, brag to the waitress about what we were doing. We have a photo from 1968 that shows Grandpa napping on the couch with my sister curled up next to him fast asleep. She still remembers that he wore a cologne that was all his, that put her at ease. Mom says he was just passed out and it was probably the beer coming out of his pores, covered up in Old Spice.
She's mellowed in her opinion of Grandpa over the years. She's come to respect the way we 'kids' think of him and what he meant to us. She saw him through the eyes of an adult, a person who could see the faults and flaws without the innocence of youth. The loving eyes of a child can over look the dark realities of adulthood. That isn't necessarily a good thing. But in the context of this situation, it salvages a memory of a man who worked hard for a lot of years with little to show for it, other than a loving family. He didn't jump into the bottle because of despair but of loneliness. He needed his buddies at the bar for companionship. Who are we to judge that?
My dad, who moonlighted as barkeep at that tavern for extra money, said that every bar stool tenant there knew about us kids. All the 'Norms' and 'Cliffs' knew who we were, what baseball team we played on, who got the awards in school; everything about us. All that came from my Grandpa. When I was 10, he gave me a bike for my birthday. He said that he just happened to put a dollar on the punchboard game and he won the bike. He told me: "Didn't know what to do with the damn thing so I guess you can have it." A few years ago, Mom told me that he spent all night at that game until he won the bike.
If we don't allow for mistakes, allow for some human failing, we may end up slighting the memories of those who were important to us. When we talk about Grandpa now, Mom always says; "He really loved you kids." forgetting the way she felt about him back then. Selective memory can be a good thing, I guess.
We tend to be too judgmental, too strict in our personal dogma. If we don't allow some fresh air into the way we think, our standards will grow cold and rigid, like a petrified tree. We didn't have that as kids but some of us have it as grown-ups. I fear that I've gotten that way in my adultery too.
So today, I'm going to a little diner near my apartment and order french fries, french toast and a vanilla milkshake.
Happy Sunday, Grandpa.
So Mote It Be,