Ode to Grandfathers
“What was grandpa like?”
Katie, surprised, dropped her book and turned around to face her younger brother. “What?”
“I’m pretty sure you heard me the first time,” replied Jackson.
“I’m assuming you mean grandpa Dan?” huffed Katie, who was irritated at being interrupted during her reading.
Her brother stuck out his tongue. “Duh, grandpa Tom is still alive.”
“Jackson, he died when you were two. You’re nine. Why do you wanna know now?”
Jackson got quiet and fiddled with his fingers for a moment before looking down. Katie’s face softened.
“At school we were talking about our grandparents in class, and a lot of kids still have both of their grandparents. Some kids even have THREE grandpas!” He got quiet again. “Why do I only have one?”
Katie wasn’t exactly sure how to talk to her brother about this. “Isn’t this something you should be asking mom or dad?”
Jackson shook his head no. “They only know grandpa as a dad. I wanna know what he was like as a grandpa.”
Katie was about to say no when Jackson hit her with his best puppy dog eyes. She considered telling him that she was busy, but eventually rolled her eyes and said, “Fine.”
“YES! Be right back!” Jackson ran out of the room and into their parent’s room. When he came back down he was carrying an old scrapbook.
“What’s that for?” asked Katie.
“It just feels right,” shrugged Jackson.
Katie sat down on her bed and motioned for him to sit next to her. “Ok, what do you wanna know?”
Jackson looked thoughtful for a moment. “Was he a good grandpa?”
Katie snorted. “Yeah, he was the best. You know how mom and dad don’t let us have any desert before dinner?”
“Yeah, it’s stupid.”
“Well,” began Katie, “Grandpa would sneak me and our cousins cookies when he thought our parents weren’t looking.”
Jackson’s eyes lit up. “No way!”
“Way,” giggled Katie. “And he was super funny.” She thought for a minute.“You probably won’t appreciate his humor until you’re at least 15.”
Confused, Jackson asked, “What does that even mean?”
“Never mind. What else would you like to know?”
“I like to golf…did grandpa?”
“Oh man, grandpa loved golfing.” Katie got closer to Jackson and whispered, “One time, he even let me drive his golf kart.”
“What?!” exclaimed Jackson, “I thought you had to be, like, at least 20 to drive!”
“Grandpa was sneaky and I happened to be an excellent driver.”
Jackson pointed a finger at his sister. “That’s a lie! You’re a horrible driver!”
“You’re nine, what do you know about driving?”
“I know that you’re terrible at it.”
Katie gave up. “Ok, fine, what else do you wanna know about grandpa?”
“What was his favorite color?”
“How am I supposed to know?” scoffed Katie. She thought for a moment. “Red? That seems like a grandpa color.”
Jackson giggled. “What makes a grandpa color?”
“I don’t know,” laughed Katie. “He wore a lot of red, so maybe I just associate that with him.”
Jackson got quiet again and Katie became concerned. “What’s wrong?”
“Did grandpa love me?”
“What?!” exclaimed Katie. “Of course he loved you! He loved our parents, Aunt Carol, our cousins, and you, even though you were a gross baby.”
Katie thought this would make him feel better, but she saw a tear roll down his cheek. “Exactly, I was only a baby! How do you know??”
“Open the scrapbook.”
Jackson looked up at her, confused. “Why?”
“Just open it.”
He opened the scrapbook to the first page and stopped and stared. The very first picture was of their grandfather holding Jackson as a baby.
“See how he was looking at you? That’s love.” Katie then pointed to another picture on the page.
“That one of me holding you? Disgust.”
Jackson laughed and punched his sister in the arm. “Do you think mom will let me cut this picture out so I can hang it up on my wall?”
“I don’t know, you go ask her.”
Jackson picked up the scrapbook and ran downstairs into their living room yelling for their mother.
more by CASSIE GAMMIE
photograph by Neill Kumar