Crisp White Hankie

I can find inspiration in a mudpuddle. Seriously.

Or at least in the soda aisle of the supermarket.

You know how they hang random items in the aisle that don't really go with the rest of the stuff in the aisle, it's just a random product? Like catfood lids in the cereal section, on its own hangy thingy? When I was grocery shopping, there I saw hanging off one of the shelves, was a bunch of white "crisp folded hankerchiefs" nicely folded as the label said, in a plastic package of three.

It made me miss my grandfather so much I became dazed and confused and lost my train of thought, making a trip that should have taken a half an hour, an hour. I was weaving around the aisles with my cart, completely blank.

I've been missing him so much lately. I don't know what it is, but so much I see reminds me of him. He had multiple sclerosis. He was in crutches when he was my age, and soon after, a wheelchair. He always carried around a cloth hankerchief and when he would blow his nose, he would honk. He would also reach up there with an entire finger with his hankie wrapped around it but he would do it as a joke and make faces and show us the contents of the used hankie and we would all yell "Ewwwww!"

Gosh, he was such a clown. Later on in his life, he lived in a nursing home because he needed 24 hour care and he gave all the nurses a hard time. In a good way. He'd tease the heck out of them and they all loved him. He was in so much pain so much of the time, but he never failed to make us laugh until it hurt.

He would use the word, "beast." As in, "You beast!" And it used to crack me up and I am laughing with teary eyes thinking about that as I write it.

Beast. Who uses that word?

He would open his mouth and let his dentures fall halfway out of his mouth and show us his gums. He loved his music so much, he used to make tapes all the time of his favorites. And he got a kick out of Peter Sellers, especially the movie "The Party" where he sat down on the toilet and pulled the toiletpaper and it just unraveled and unraveled and unraveled.

I guess what started me thinking of him was how he owned a race car and I thought my two-year-old son would just be beside himself if he knew that. It was a #6 midget racecar and we would go watch it race in Riverhead, New York and eat french fries with vinegar and the ride out there and back my cousin and I would sit all the way in the back of the station wagon facing the cars behind us and make faces at them. I have a picture of the car and I want to blow it up and frame it and put it in my son's room, which is all cars. I must remember to do that.

He loved his dogs. When he lived in New York, he had a white poodle named Whitey (because why not) and a blind Pekinese named Poo and he always said they both had terrible "halitosis". He took my cousin and I to the store one time when we were ten and bought us purses, stationary, pens, and $40 worth of candy. He'd take us on rides on his motorized wheelchair all the way down to the block and back and my cousin and I would ride up and down on his wheelchair lift at his house for hours. Then he'd buy us ice cream from the ice cream man (chocolate eclairs) and we'd run around outside his house and catch fireflies. He used to be an ice cream man himself, my mom told me, but his business had to fold because he kept giving away free ice cream.

He was one of the most loving men I've ever known and you know I have a few of those in my life. But he was infectious. He knew everyone and everyone loved him. He passed just before my wedding. I think he knew it because he made a comment one day at dinner that I'll keep to myself. But I think he was tired.

I wish I visited him more often, but I think he knows that because I think about him all the time and talk to him. Once I thought I saw him in his wheelchair and when I turned around he was gone. I am sure my mind was playing tricks on me and that a shadow fell in such a way, but I think he is still around us, secretly calling me a "beast" and flashing his dentures around and digging in his nose with his white hankie.
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  1. What an absolutely lovely piece of writing. Everybody should remember their Grandfather in such a way!

    You bring to mind my own Pops, he died when I was 18 and 15 years later I still miss him - I occasionally even dream of him, we used to have great conversations!

  2. Aw, that is so sweet and so touching, Christie. It's so odd the random things hanging in the grocery store aisles that don't seem to belong, isn't it? I'm glad that the hankies made you think of someone clearly so special to you and to share your grandpa with us. He sounds like a great guy.

  3. sweet! What a beautiful sentiment to him!
    Wanted to check in with you from paradise..put Hawaii on your "people reading my blog from various parts of the world list.."
    Cheers friend..
    and aloha!


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