Friday, October 29, 2010
"My dad kept his Model-T's in the garage. I must have been two."
His first memory. "What color were they?"
"Black. All the Model-T's were black," he says. "They didn't make colors until the Model-A." I see his little boy hands stuffed in pockets, bare feet in the garage.
The depression. "Kids wore canvas shoes back then. Converse. The girls wore pink ones, the boys, black." We trundle up a back path, dog and kids in tow. Lulie thumps by, pink converse laced up to the ankle. I picture Grampa's ten-year-old hands lacing up black ones.
Back in the cabin we settle in. Wide arm-chairs, a cup of coffee, "I drove her to her appointments," he says. His mother. Breast cancer.
"So it was pretty big when it came back?" Grampa was 21. I see his hands there on the steering wheel taking Momma to the city.
"It's not the size," he says.
"Just how far along it was?"
He strokes Paddy-dog. "The stage." Paddy closes her eyes. Afternoon sun warms her black coat and Grampa's hands. Doctor hands. "When I was practicing," he says, "sometimes we'd see something called a spontaneous remission. Never could explain it." Paddy nuzzles his hand, "Unless someone upstairs, was lookin' out for ya."
Upstairs. It hangs in the air. Someone upstairs. "Yup." Wish I could have met his mother.
Later he says Great-Uncle Alan went to the war, took a bullet at the Battle of the Bulge -- shattered his arm, wrist to elbow. A year later, he left the hospital, one arm forever shorter. He never played the clarinet or the piano again.
Grampa picks up rocks for the kids to try and skip. He rubs the dirt off, holds Paddy's leash, leans into the pistol holster across his shoulder. "Here you go, Jack." Little boy kerplunks it in the deep water.
Paddy-dog pulls us home, to the mountain cabin.
The days leaf by. A month away now, I miss Grampa. Wish we could sprawl the table with three games of solitaire and see who wins more. I'm hungry for more stories.
A good man is hard to find.