Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some Stories of My Grandfather

My dad and I visited my grandfather last night to see how he was doing in the wake of living since my grandmother passed away. And he was feeling just as I expected: everything. The man was enduring every feeling he had in him. He laughed when he talked about old gambling stories and he got silent as he spoke about realizing he bought just one sweet potato instead of two at the grocery store for the first time in over 50 years.

The three of us talked about a lot of things and my grandfather invited me to do something for the first time in nearly a decade (in fact, he invited me to San Diego and come play cards at his house). The evening was heart-warming and heart-wrenching, and even my dad didn't know what to say on the way home. In the car, with eyes glazed over, focused on the road, my father said his brain was broken. Even after so many years gone, it's weird, almost overwhelming, to enter a place that you associate with a person who isn't there anymore. But we did have a nice time.

Some things my grandpa told me that I thought were interesting...

- All the twentysomething bachelors of my very-extended family used to come over to my grandparents' house to play cards on the weekend. This included my grandparents' sons, nephews, great-nephews, et cetera. My grandparents couldn't ever figure out why they weren't taking out girls but were instead just getting drunk and gambling at their house.

- My grandfather's brother Tom was maybe the most sensational gambler in a family of cardsharks and hustlers. One time, when he was in the high-high-rollers club, Tom was playing in a secret room at the top of a hotel with my grandpa just hanging out behind him and watching. At some point, Tom turned to my grandpa and said, "Jimmy, if I win, you can take the winnings to the poor people of Mexico." Tom won and handed my grandfather the single chip that came with the winning hand and said, "Do good with it." My grandfather cashed it in and was handed $1,000. That week, my grandfather bought $1,000 worth of beans and rice and went to Mexico.

- When World War II was sneaking up on the United States, my grandfather's P.E. classes at school turned into rope-climbing exercises, just to have the boys ready. But the boys weren't reluctant even a little bit. It turns out that they would go to each other's houses after school and jump off of the garage to self-train themselves to be paratroopers or bailing navy officers. They wanted to do it so they'd never panic, as they heard about the navy officers who jumped off sinking air craft carriers and had their helmets break their necks when they hit the water. Them boys wanted to be ready.

1 comment:

athousandscreamingrabbits said...

I like those stories. Great stories. Keep at it Jake.