Wednesday, November 25, 2009


OK. Short day at the office and then I gotz a couple of days criss-crossing the State.
So... I have a story. About my old, long gone grandfather.

He had been a sturdy man, of Germanic stock and of slightly more than modest means; he had owned a subsistence farm just south of the city and had made home-made beer and wine during the Prohibition. Family lore is that he did well with that and after WWII made good money selling the farm in lots as the city grew.

He was alway old in my memory. My mother was his youngest and I was my mother's third child. I believe he was 94 and I was 22 when he had his fifth and fatal heart attack. At that time he had been married to my Grandmother for 71 years. He was a taciturn man with a sweet sleepy smile and a gaze that either moved through long ago trodden roads of yesterday or moved right through you as if you weren't there. But he was friendly enough, even thought he had a habit of falling asleep during some conversations.

I remember visiting him after his first heart attack.

"I'm OK, Jimmy," he said. " They just told me not to work so much and watch what I eat." His eyes were clear and bright. " I'll just keep on living, and loving and praying."

The second heart attack was only ten months after the first.

" More things they say I shouldn't ought do no more!" he sighed. "Gotzta quit hunting and fishing. They say tramping through the woods and rowing my boat ain't good no more." His eyes brows arched with ancient melancholy. "But I'll keep living and loving and praying!"

The third was more serious. He was told emphatically that fried foods, especially fish and potatoes were out. As well as sweets. Coffee was gone. Skim milk only. He assured me though, his mouth set grimly tight and severe, that he would persevere and continue living and loving and praying.

The fourth incident was two years later. It was a dozey. The doctors expected a decent recovery, but this time there would be an extended hospital stay and that is where I went to visit.

"Bastards!" He exhaled as an oath. " They take it all away from a man! First my work, then my hunting and fishing, then my food....Bastards." His hand rose and he wagged an ancient digit in my face and for a moment a fierce fire lit his eyes again. " Do you know what the Bastards told me this time??? I'll tell youse! No more beer or sex!!!"

Now I never had seen him this agitated. His voice, which had been a pale horse, now gathered itself for a tired last gallop.

"It's OK, Grandpa," I said. "It's OK", I tried to calm him.


I thought he would have the fifth heart attack right before me.

"Just keep living and praying and loving," I said. "It'll be OK."
He rose on his elbows. " Well.... I'll pray the next one kills me!!!" he snorted. "I'll show 'em!"

He had such a nice smile on his face at his funeral, and, oh, how grandmother wept.

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