maro Lip Schtick: Happy Birthday, Pap

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Birthday, Pa

My Grandpa would have been 90 today. Although he died in 1992, I still miss him dearly.

He had his flaws, as we all do. Man, was he a horrible driver ... paying attention to everything but the task at hand, driving. A classic rubbernecker. And he wouldn't slow down to take a quick glance at an accident. He would crane his neck 180 degrees at full speed if it meant he'd catch a glimpse of something interesting. My knuckles were a bright shade of pale whenever I rode with him.

And he had a temper like nothing you've ever seen. It took quite a bit to get him to the boiling point, but once he was there, watch out. His ears would turn a deep shade of red. When I saw the crimson lobes (crimson lobes ... that sounds like the name of a punk band), I knew to take cover. The funny thing is, the ears were never directed at me. I irritated him on several occasions, but never once did his temper flare up with me.

He had his good points, too. He was smart. Not just book smart. He had more common sense than most people I've met. And boy, did he know how make you feel like an idiot. Whenever I would do or say something stupid, he didn't even have to say a word. He would just sit there (in his favorite chair), shake his head and laugh at me. But there was no sound. His belly would just shake. I knew when I "heard" the silent laughter that I screwed up.

On the flip side of the coin ... I always new Pa was proud of me. Not that he'd say it so often, but I could just tell. When he would say it though, he always did it in a way that would keep me humble. He'd squeeze me on the shoulder and chuckle, "You're a good one ... sometimes." The "sometimes" cracked me up. Grandpa always had to keep me in line.

He was a great money manager -- frugal, but not cheap. He worked in the oilfield industry for years, even running his own drill bit company for a while. I remember on numerous occasions when he'd be called in the middle of the night to supervise drilling jobs. Then the oil bust of the 80s hit. But it didn't hurt Pa. He saved wisely.

He served in the Army as a soldier during WW II. But like many men of his generation ... he never like to talk about it. I found out later in his life that he had actually been sent to Buchenwald concentration camp to help liberate some of the prisoners held there. Unfortunately, I know very little about his experiences there, as he was always mum on the subject.

I like to look at pictures of him when he was younger. He was a tall, svelte man with hair as black as coal and startling blue-gray eyes. And as he aged, his hair became a shade of silver that complimented those eyes so beautifully. He was handsome until the day he died.

Pa was quiet about most events of his short 78-year life. But I loved him. He was the closest thing to a father figure I ever had, and I trusted him.

I always feel badly for people when they tell me they were never close with their grandparents. They truly missed out. Mine were my best friends.

And I think they knew it, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a touching and poignant homage to what sounds like a great man! Thank you for sharing your tribute to him and sharing a part of yourself.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After I read what you wrote about your grandfather I thought to myself: what I a wonderful reason to have a blog. Your tribute was really moving. I too had a great relationship with my grandfather and I have always felt lucky because he lived with us when I was a little kid. Thank you for reminding me of my own good fortune.

9:43 PM  
Blogger LilRed said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I appreciate that both of you enjoyed the piece about "Pa." I hope he enjoyed it as well!

I know that a lot of my posts seem inane; that's what makes them fun. But this one was heartfelt.

Someday I'll post something about Grandma, too.

Thanks again.

3:32 PM  

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