I wrote this for Christmas, I was imagining what it' be like to have a grandfather.
|“Have I ever told you about how I saved your grandmother?”
We sit near the tree as he holds in his lap that old battered leather-barely-bound book. I wait eagerly for this story, this classic tale he recites every year.
“It started when I was shoveling the sidewalk,” he begins with that good ol’ feeling of nostalgia I hope to experience one day.
He opens the aged book, and a familiar cracking sound escapes, following closely is the aroma of ancient leather, emerging from the darkest corner of our attic only this one time. He turns, page after page, revealing not only yellowed photos, but movie ticket stubs (and he always compares prices to the present), receipts of various times, love letters, a deed to a house, a dried tulip, and many other mementos granddad has been storing over the years.
“And so, shy as I was, I approached her,” he starts laughing. “Lord, if you saw me. I wore my only suit, the dark grey one, and gave her a tulip- a purple tulip,” he points at the dried flower, “and told her ‘Ma’am, your beauty outmatches thousands of these flowers,’” he laughs again.
“Grandpa! That’s so romantic!” My sister says, granddad winks.
“What happened then?” I ask, always hungry for more.
He continues in his slow drawl, delivery every word with gentle but firm care.
“She was flattered, of course, but there was a problem.”
“A boyfriend!” My sister can’t help herself.
“That’s right, sweetie. She had a boyfriend; a mean boyfriend. The boyfriend who did bad things. I was honor bound to help her,” he explains.
I imagine the narrative as he gives every detail: There’s the bad man, Tommy “Gun” and his crew. They always meet at the skating rink, every weekend, and are a fearful group with beautiful skating moves.
Granddad continues: “In those days, we fought with our dance moves. Occasionally we’ll exchange fists, sure, but we fought with honor, nevertheless.”
I turn to the fireplace – as I always do – and watch the flames dance on and over the log pieces. The wood crackles and sends small sparks flying around the arena before ascending the chimney. I watch the red-and-orange figures dance around the rink, sometimes touching each other while granddad details how he and his friends take on that mean ol’ Tommy Gun.
Granddad laughs, “If I told you once, I done told you a thousand times; Tommy’s right hand man, Tuna (not sure why the name but oh well) was the first to fall,” he laughs again.
He explains how Tuna causes a few of Tommy’s crew to fall and it’s ultimately down to just Tommy. So Granddad elects to go alone.
“This was no easy feat, Tommy was pretty much held back by his team, he had some tremendous moves, I tell you what,” he coughs a little during his laugh.
“How did you beat him?” I ask, hoping he’ll show me again.
As always, he places his book on the table and starts to dance. He reanimates the entire battle; showing us moves as old as time, imitating the voices and the cheers from the crowd – especially grandma’s.
“Yessir, your old grandpa was a town hero that day. Ran Tommy Gun right out of town, I did. He pulls a newspaper clipping out of that sacred keeper of memories and then yawns. “Goodness, look at the time.”
“One more story, grandpa!”
“Yea, c’mon granddad!” He smiles lightly, a look of slight surprise on his face.
I’m not sure why we like his stories so much, he’s not sure why he likes telling them, but we look forward to this moment every Christmas, and soon, he’ll fall asleep clutching on to his memories, just like last year, and the year before that.