Friday, October 31, 2008

When I was little, my grandfather had a clock that would tell the time when you pushed a button. He told me that inside the clock lived a little man that he fed peanuts to, from the can of salted peanuts that he always kept next to his chair. I stuck one under the edge of the clock, in a little groove that fit the peanut perfectly, and sure enough when I went to look later the peanut was gone.
We kept this game up for years, long past when I was old enough to know that he was taking the peanuts out himself.

My grandparents met at a dance, my grandad 17 years younger than my grandmother, who had already had one marriage and two children with her first husband. He had come through a complicated and painful childhood and though he never said much, I remember him always watching me, his only grandchild, and smiling indulgently. He was always there, this big firm presence, always smelling of cigarettes and whiskey, always with his deep gruff voice and big laugh. We lived so close that I saw or at least spoke to my grandparents often, frequently several times a week, and my grandad always felt like my personal special grandparent. Growing up, he was the most solid thing in the universe.

He died today, my grandad, in his chair sometime while my grandma was at work. The world already feels emptier.

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