This morning I woke with melancholy pouring over me. I woke with the presence of my grandfather and my heart was aware of just how much I miss him.
The last several months have been overwhelming for me, dealing with other sad issues that have crept into my life. I have cried many tears and to wake up this morning even sadder than I could imagine made it difficult to get out of bed.
I laid there and played back memories and pictures of Grandpa. I have a couple of favorite pictures of him. The first one I was probably about a year old and Grandpa is holding me in his strong arms. We are in the kitchen and he’s wearing a white t-shirt. The picture is black and white. We both had very dark hair, his straight and mine, of course frizzy curly.
The other picture is on my Wedding Day, 23 years later. Grandpa stands between my husband and I, this time in a suit and smiling and me leaning in to get as close as I can, since I am too big for him to hold me as he did when I was a child. We didn’t know then the cancer was there dictating his life. It was the end of August and I would lose him in January, so little time for me, but more than a life time of pain and sorrow for the two of us.
I have memories in between these years. I think my first memory is just me and Grandpa, sitting in the kitchen, eating white bread, milk and sugar mixed in a glass. I can’t imagine that tasting good now, but it was the best that day with my Grandpa. My mother has told me I used to eat sardines and crackers with him too. I don’t remember. Much of my life memories are fuzzy, but incredibly I can remember that old plastic scratched up cup well. I don’t know if Grandma still has it. I haven’t seen it in many years.
I remember crying hard the day I found his teeth in a glass in the bathroom. It sounds funny I know, but it was the day my foundation shook a little, realizing parts of Grandpa had been replaced. He was my rock, my Superhero. How could my hero have false teeth? I thought, till that moment, he was invincible.
I stayed with my Grandparents for a great length of time when my Mom broke her hip, first with her in the hospital, then eventually with Mom in their front room in a hospital bed with Grandma taking care of her. We seem to have a history of Mom’s taking care of their daughters, as my Mom took care of me when I got cancer. I remember lying on the floor watching Minnie Pearl, Red Skelton and Lawrence Welk. Grandpa and I eating an apple that Grandma cut up for us. She’d get them out of the side room where they were kept cool and the mustiness of the basement would fill the room as we ate our apples and laughed at Minnie and Red. The musty smell would remind me of Indiana, memories on top of memories.
I remember when we lived just 2 blocks down the street from my Grandparent’s house. I remember the phone ringing and I was told to come down to the house, because Grandpa had a surprise for me. I remember Grandpa’s smile again that day, as he told me to look under the chair and there were two little eyes shining back at me. I don’t remember where he got her, but Grandpa had gotten me my little dog Fluffy. Oh, she was pretty and furry, tan and white. She was a little fluff ball, my Fluffy. Many years later when we got a dog for our kids, we got Sammy, he was a whole lot bigger, but it was a reminder of that day with my Grandpa and his excitement in giving me such a gift, a gift from the heart. Making the memory didn’t cost him anything, but gave him happiness to make this little girl happy, again, memories on top of memories.
We made many trips to Indiana together, back to his home and his mother. Grandpa loved going there and so did I. I miss being there, all together in that old house. There was such a sense of closeness. None of the bedrooms had doors and even though you were in your own room, you could still hear and feel the presence of everyone, my great grandma, Mama (pronounced Mamaw), my grandpa and grandma, my Mom, sometimes my Dad and then my little brother, Aaron, sometimes my Auntie and all her kids, all of us together. Every night I’d go to sleep listening to the crickets outside, and inside the sounds of the adults moving about the house, little bits of chatter, as I drifted off to sleep. I loved listening to my Grandpa’s voice, as he talked to his mom. After all these years I still get hints of his voice. The sheets were crisp from drying on the line outside and the smell of just a touch of mustiness, in the summer, and wood burning in the fireplace in winter, they were grand smells. Every time I smell wood burning I am drawn back to those days of joy. Little sorrow had touched us at that time.
So much time has passed, Grandpa has been dead for 26 1/2 years now, and so much sorrow has come into my life from that day. I miss him, I always will. He was a good man, and to my child eyes I don’t think there was ever a person he didn’t like. Oh he could get mad, I saw him argue politics and religion with his brothers, but at the end of it, he still loved them, it was their way of communication, I guess.
As I grew I saw my superhero was far from perfect, but I loved him unconditionally. More so than probably anyone else who has come into my life. He could cuss with the best of them, but he also had respect for other people. You could see him stammer and stutter trying to watch his language when his brother in law Ted, the Methodist preacher was around. He loved Ted and respected him. It was fun to watch him, try and not swear.
Putting these thoughts down has helped my melancholy waking this morning. That’s a favorite word of mine now. It doesn’t seem quite as dark as the words, sad or sorrow or grief. Melancholy, for me is a mix of the sorrow and joy, of good memories. The memories of times when things were less complicated and we thought our Grandparents and our parents and mostly ourselves would be loved and live forever.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from JL The Turtle is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to JL The Turtle and The Accidental Thoughts of a Turtle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.