Writing Prompt: Grandpa part 1
The first memory I have of my great-grandfather really isn’t memory at all. I have been told this story a million times, so much I can “remember” it happening. I was one, shiny cloudless blue Missouri sky. It was summer, so around June or July. My great-grandfather, a survivor of D-day, was trimming branches off a big tree in our back yard (some people say he was actually mowing the lawn). I was up on the deck with mom, aunt and great-grandma.
The house sits half on a hill, and half not. The garage is under the house next to the basement, putting the deck six feet off the ground with a short landing to break up the stair climb. With a concrete slab at the bottom. The railing on top was red, and the slats were tan or a light brown color. Spaced far enough apart that a small human couldn’t fall through, but this day something went wrong.
I was a big grandpa’s girl and was crying because nobody would let me go down there and “help.” I must have shook the slats or something, because one came loose and I fell through. I don’t remember the fall or the sound of my skull cracking when I hit the ground but I can see grandpa appearing above me and picking me up.
That’s all I have been told. Except after I fell, great-grandfather put up lattice work in an attempt to stop further accidents. Years later, my great-grandfather is gone and the house belongs to someone else; but the porch is still there. The lattice work is gone and the porch had been painted yellow, but the boards are still the ones he placed there. No one had fixed the porch and you can see the bottom wood waiting for another accident.
Everything we do or see in life either creates a memory or reminds us of past. Scents, sights and songs can trigger happy moments with loved ones and bad times between friends. What is your happiest memory? Or your saddest? I bet there is something that would trigger that memory.
Juicyfruit gum and pipe tobacco remind me of my great-grandpa. He always had a pack of gum in the front pocket of his overalls. The pipe tobacco was for his smoking, which great-grandma didn’t like. My earliest memory of him was when I was about one, he was trimming a tree in the backyard. I was on the back porch, about six feet or so off the ground, and wanted to be down there with him. One of the railing slats I was holding onto came loose, and I fell. I fell to the bottom of the stairs where a concrete slab caught my fall. Cracked my head open enough for six or seven stitches.
The rest of the time, was happier. The smell of fresh cut grass reminds me of how he would drive his Indian lawn mower everywhere. He would take it to town instead of driving his car, unless he had to take grandma with him. He had a little trailer that he would hitch up to the mower and drive me around with him.
My worst memory of him, was the day of his funeral. He served in the army during WWII, so it was a military funeral with the bugle and 21- gun salute. For the years I couldn’t hear taps being played without breaking down. The sound of three gunmen, firing rounds was the most torturous. Each shot was another stab in the heart and another realization that he was really gone.
He was buried with the rest of our family, and one thing I always remember doing with him on memorial day was visiting his mom’s marker. She never had a headstone, just a metal placard marking her place, and grandpa would always put flowers down. As his funeral ended, I wandered off to visit her because he couldn’t. I felt that I needed to, because I knew it was important to him and the others wouldn’t.
I miss him very much, but it’s the little things in life that keep me remembering. Like right now I’m chewing juicyfruit and remembering his hugs.