Tonight Gramp would have been 101. We celebrated and toasted his memory at dinner tonight, although that was not the original purpose of the meal. However, it made for the perfect opportunity to tell our favorite Gramp stories, some of which I hadn’t thought of in years.
Gramp was my “adopted” grandfather who lived next door to us growing up. Hilary, Hunter, and I may have spent more time there than at our own house. Hours were spent lying on our backs on the floor with our feet in Gramp’s lap. He donned a paint brush dipped in water and tickled our feet while we watched cartoons. I can remember beging him to please paint my feet. We played the drums on his belly while he sat in his red leather recliner.
There were always cookies in the cookie jar – Oreos and Chips Ahoy – and ginger ale in the basement. Gramp put salt on his watermelon and never spilled a drop of juice from his grapefruit. I can remember watching him, fascinated, as he got the last bits of juice into his spoon. And, as I was reminded tonight, knew exactly how long it took to grill a hamburger – two whiskey sours.
Gramp “taught” me how to play the piano, which I thought I knew well enough to accompany myself as I sang “I Believe” in the school talent show when I was in the 4th grade. And he let me give pretend concerts on his old violin, even though I had no idea what a violin was.
Gramp was there for every birthday and holiday. Gramp was the grandfather I never had and the best example of one I can think of. I wish Robbie had been able to know him, to climb up on his lap and play the drums. Perhaps we’ll just have to settle for me painting Robbie’s feet while he watches cartoons. It’s the best tradition I can think of to pass on.