Let me tell you a story.

Let me tell you a story.

Last week we were at my Grandparents' humble house on a lake – it had happened – and after eating and talking, we had settled, convened on chairs and couches in the living room. Grandpa says, "God, would you believe, it was 64 years ago, 64 years ago we were on our first date. And I can remember it just as if it just happened, as if I just walked back in the door, I can see it." And then he stopped, on the verge of getting lost in thought. I couldn't let that pass so I asked, "What happened?" He recounted then in exact detail the events of the day, getting lost on his way to pick her up for a good while before figuring out how the addresses worked, how the curbs on her street were especially high, so that when he swung open his Pontiac car door too far, he dinged it real good, how he walked up to her door and she was waiting, how when they got into his car he took off his fedora and threw it to the back seat, because it kept on hitting the roof of the car. How she was offended by this because she thought it was his way of making a pass (they had only just gotten into the car??), since another guy she had dated used the hat throw as a hot move, really though grandpa was just annoyed with the roof.

Someone asked him how old he was at the time. “26,” he said. Everyone looked at me.

How he took her out dancing to O'Henry's; she wasn’t the best dancer but that’s not what was important. And how, when they came back he went inside her place, and she took him into the kitchen, got him a glass of water, and there they talked together for three some hours. “And she said something just the other day, something she had never said to me before in all this time. She said, ‘and even then, that night, I knew you were the one I’d be with.’’’

The next day, when we had the service for her, it was only family, some 25 of us, and well, and my grandpa's neighbor Bob. We were all huddled in a circle around the casket, the deacon said his words and then handed grandpa an oil scepter, with help, he walked around the casket and sprinkled it. Then we were all quiet, and he said, "I just want to say, that 64 years ago, I fell in love with this woman. This, this is the hat I was wearing when I did.” He took his hat off his head, and rested it on the casket. It was the hat, powder blue with a pheasant feather, and looked like he bought it yesterday. We all let out quiet gasps, none of had known he was wearing it, much less that it still existed. He kept it there, on the casket, for a moment. Then he put it back on his head.


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Tags: chicago, family, grandma

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