mrissa: (Default)

Today I’m wearing the shirt I bought when my grandpa was dying.

There are drawbacks to having a very sticky memory, and this is one of them: Grandpa died six years ago, and I have never once worn this shirt without thinking of the circumstances of its purchase. It’s a lovely bottle green, it’s a fabulous color for me, the fabric is soft…but it is permanently the shirt that I bought when my grandpa was dying.

I sometimes think that after six years I should stop having this lurching vertiginous feeling every time we do something with my side of the family and I’m in charge of making the reservations or buying the tickets or whatever. Every time–every single time–I have a horrible moment of conviction that I have reserved (or bought or whatever) the wrong number. And my brain doesn’t forget at those times. It’s not that I have moments of thinking Grandpa is still alive. Because what I invariably think is, “Where’s Grandpa going to sit?” So the thing in my brain that lurches like that knows that it’s Grandpa missing. But it happens every time, and it’s not tied to a number. My brain knows that we are different numbers at different times. We’re just…always one less than we’re supposed to be, whether we’re four or five or six or seven or…I don’t know, it could get up to seven billion, I suppose, and it’s still seven billion but no seat reserved for Grandpa.

I hate the second week of March.

And it’s not just Grandpa; Gran died on the same day as he did. I have this sense of doom every March. It’s good to keep an eye on that sort of thing so that you don’t mistake it for actual knowledge, and I’ve had this same sense of doom last year and the year before and so on, with no actual doom attached. My dark forebodings should not be reinforced with confirmation bias. The people I love who are going through tough medical things are not any likelier to have a hard time because of my feelings about early March.

Still and all. I am always glad when we get through this bit.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

We have all sorts of things going on, tasks and chores and ideas, attempts at healing and social things, worries and relief. And threaded over and under and around and through it is the fact that we are coming up on the fifth anniversary of my grandpa’s death. Like his mother before him, he died on March 16, cementing the next day’s St. Patrick’s Day associations for me pretty permanently. Maybe there’ll come a time when I don’t think of it, but I kind of doubt that. On the day he died, I was so glad and so grateful to have a loved one cooking corned beef and cabbage for us because it was hot food made with love, but now the association is so strong I hope I never eat it again.

I brought all his books home and cataloged them and stacked them up, and I have been reading through them. Some of them I bounce off, some I read through, and you see them in my book post. There were hundreds. Now there are less than twenty. When I realized the five-year anniversary was coming, I was grateful that there were not fewer, because I will soon be done reading Grandpa’s books, and if there had been two or three, if there had been only a handful, it might have felt like the right thing to try to finish on the anniversary, and I think that would have been wrong. I think that would have been too much synchronicity to bear, and yet it would have been hard to resist that kind of narrative pull. So I will just keep at it steadily, and I will finish reading them when I finish reading them. The universe is full of ragged ends and things that don’t come out evenly, and that is better than okay, it is good. The tidy packages, the tied-up strings, they are not how life works.

When I have finished reading my grandpa’s books that he owned, I will be okay. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I will cry. I will probably cry like my heart is breaking all over again, because it will be one more thing, one more piece of loss. But I can never lose my grandpa all the way. I knew that the day he died, and I was right; I know it just as much now. Every year for his birthday I buy myself a book for Grandpa and me. And it’s a good tradition, but that thing I said up there about things coming out evenly, I meant it, so if I’m somewhere in an odd little bookshop and I find a book for Grandpa and it’s not coming up on February 1, I buy it for Grandpa and me anyway. Or I get it from the library for Grandpa and me. Of course it’s not the same. It’s not remotely the same, that’s the horrible part. But I can only do the part I can do, and this is the part I can do, the stories, the remembrance, my side of the conversation.

And putting more of the protag’s grandpa in the book I’m revising. Because he belongs there, and because.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

mrissa: (Default)

In my internet wanderings, I ran into this open letter to lung cancer patients who smoked. And…I feel pretty strongly this way. I run into obits sometimes where they specify that someone died of lung cancer even though they never smoked, and I think to myself, because if they had, their families wouldn’t have permission to grieve? My grandpa smoked, back in the day, and he quit before I was born, but his COPD contributed to his death. He didn’t have to earn my grief with perfect lung-related behavior. He didn’t even have to earn my grief with perfect Grandpaing. Not a one of us is perfect. Not a one, though some of us are amazing. Sometimes we get a chance to do better. We try our best, except sometimes we don’t. We try our best at the things we can manage. Except sometimes we don’t. And we love each other anyway. And then we’re gone, and we’re allowed to grieve. We don’t have to justify our grief with righteousness.

I get upset about this in the fundraising letters from the charities I support. Habitat for Humanity sends me these letters about these families in trouble, all the good choices they’ve made and how they’re in trouble anyway, the virtuous poor, and I think, okay, yes, I believe in those virtuous poor, I believe that happens sometimes, but. But. I also believe in people who didn’t make perfect decisions and still need a place to live. It’s all right to say, “We believe that it’s not okay for people to be homeless.” It’s entirely fine to say, “We are people who think that other people should have a safe warm place to sleep. Is that who you are too? Join us. Be people who think that too. Be those people, together.”


Jul. 10th, 2012 11:26 pm
mrissa: (grandpa)
Today I hit a milestone, an even bigger one than this weekend, when my number in the library's queue to check out the Downton Abbey DVDs dropped below 100: I got through another pile of Grandpa's books.

Those of you who have been reading me awhile know that my grandpa and I were very close, and that when he died, I inherited his book collection. I've been reading them a bit at a time ever since. Grandpa would have been the last person to want me to push aside my own reading for his, and he'd have been the last person to want me to make myself miserable with his books, so when I'm pretty sure I know I don't want something, I put it aside. James Patterson and I, for example, have parted ways permanently. I have learned all I can about Grandpa and his tastes in books from reading the volumes of James Patterson I have already read, and more would do me harm. But there's other stuff in which we're a lot more congruent, and other stuff in which I look forward to finding out whether we are, or at least finding out what Grandpa saw in it.

So the books are all piled on his desk, here in my office. And...that's not the working desk. The only thing it gets used for other than holding books in the to-read queue is wrapping presents. And yet clearing some more space on it feels like a triumph. I'm not ready to be done reading Grandpa's books--good thing, too, since there are well over a hundred left. I haven't counted. But I am ready to feel like I'm making progress. I'm ready to feel like it isn't infinite. I think today, in particular, I needed something to feel like progress, and hitting another thousand words of book is great for that...up until the point where you've said, "I shouldn't have daily or weekly word count goals, that's not being healthy for me right now." Then, of course, you exceed what you would have set for them, the minute you drop them. Which maybe proves the point about how they weren't healthy? But also makes it hard to use them as the indicator of progress in quite the same way.

I keep reading my way through a book one of my godfathers gave Grandpa called The American Short Story. The The is underlined, and they mean it. They don't mean Some American Short Stories. They mean, by God, these are the most famousest ones that ever famoused. This book is remarkably ill-suited for how I talk about books. It's got The Turn of the Screw in it just kind of at random, sternly, this is something you should read, damn you, go read it, after some Melville but before you get to Hemingway. There are more than a thousand pages of this, and they are being quite firm about what is and is not canon. They know best. It isn't a book to read any more than his bird guide was a book to read (I read that too), any more than the Marine Corps Book of Lists was a book to read (I read that too), it's a thing you have to look up the things you're supposed to have read in, and then read them in bits. No wonder it sat in his chair-side magazine rack forever. I understand now. It's a staggering thing in its way.
mrissa: (ohhh.)
I have a new story up at, Uncle Flower's Homecoming Waltz. Go for the prose, stay for the pretty picture! Seriously, I love the illustration they gave me. It is awesome. It is simultaneously well-executed and--get this--directly relevant to the story. I have been sitting on this lovely illustration all month and hugging it gently to myself, because it popped up in my Google Alert at the beginning of the month.

Yet to come today: reporting in on the Official Rest Period and books read therein. (Short version: vertigo sucks and books do not.)

Also it is my grandfather's birthday. I miss him so much. I'm glad to have good things happening on his birthday.
mrissa: (grandpa)
This has happened to me three times now: I have been waiting in line in a public place with one of Grandpa's books. And a Nice Friendly Old Fella has noticed what I was reading and commented upon it favorably, because Grandpa's books tend to be Nice Friendly Old Fella Approved.

And then like an idiot I tell the NFOF that I inherited my grandpa's books and I am reading through them all.

And then the NFOF tears up. There in line at the post office or Target or wherever else. He gets sniffly about me and my grandpa's books.

I know it's not a bad kind of sniffly. It just makes me feel like a horrible cad, going around reading things and making NFOFs cry, and I feel like I should come up with something else to say that will not make them cry, but it just...comes out of my mouth. And I don't really feel like making a huge effort to avoid my grandpa in conversation. That is about the least Mrissish thing ever. So I just don't know what.
mrissa: (grandpa)
[ profile] matociquala and [ profile] stillnotbored have already linked my favorite Thanksgiving song, so here's my other favorite Thanksgiving song.

A lot of people don't know that my fondness for the Addams Family comes straight from my grandpa. I can still hear him laughing at this bit.
mrissa: (grandpa)
I now know that there is in the world--in my house, in fact--video of me walking in the snow with my grandpa at about age 3 or so. We went out to feed the birds, hand in hand, and I ran a little, and he came and scooped me up. And it was...just so very us.

Really hard to come upon it unknowing, but so good that it exists.

Dear universe: I will let you know when I am okay with this death thing, but for now the answer is still no.
mrissa: (grandpa)
In the last few months I've developed a new problem.

It's not that I've forgotten my grandpa has died. I could never, ever forget that. But I make a lot of verbal slips these days. I will be listing who was at Easter dinner and say, "MommanDad, GrandmandGrandpa--no, no, just Grandma." Or I will say, "The folks and the grands--Grandma, the folks and Grandma." This hurts like crazy every time I do it.

And when I get tickets for us to see a play or a concert or something, when I see how many there are, I have a moment of irrational panic because there isn't one for Grandpa.

And I know it's Grandpa there isn't one for. That's the crazy stupid hard thing. If I was forgetting that Grandpa was gone, I would think, "Oh no, I didn't get enough!" rather than, "Oh no, I didn't get one for Grandpa!"

I think what's going on here is that Grandma has now lived up here awhile. My brain is not going, "Hey! It's Grandma!" all the time. Things are now in some sense normal again. And hey, my subconscious totally knows what normal for my family of origin looks like! It's me. Mom and Dad. Grandma and Grandpa.

Sigh. I simultaneously want to stop doing this and do not want there to be a new, grandpaless normal. But it turns out the universe did not ask me.
mrissa: (grandpa)
I have always observed Valentine's Day with various people in my life--not just as a romantic love holiday, but as an excuse to give little people stickers and let older folks know I'm thinking of them and like that. Love is for everybody, and my family is a holidaying sort of family. Arbor Day, Syttende-Mai, collect 'em all. We are not theological syncretists much, most of us, but holiday syncretists, oh yes. Give us your cookies, your candles, your lucky money envelopes yearning to breathe free. We're totally there.

But I can't help but remember now that Valentine's Day was the day my grandpa went into the hospital, that last time. He didn't die until over a month later, the day before St. Patrick's Day. I never much liked corned beef and cabbage. I was so glad to have it the day Grandpa died, because it was a symbol of my aunt Kathy loving us and taking care of us, but ever since then the prospect of it makes my stomach revolt, because the smell refers back to not only Grandpa's loss but the day Gran died thirteen years earlier and the college cafeteria had the wretched stuff, and that wasn't anybody taking care of me at all.

And tonight the thaw refreezing smelled a particular way, when I opened the door to let the dog out, that recalled a March visit to Sioux Falls when I was very small, when we took Gran out for Chinese food, after Grandpa had discovered he liked Chinese food, and I walked out to the car with my dad and whacked my head into his hand for affection and he scruffed my hair and it was me and Daddy and Grandpa, walking to the car in the refreezing night, not a memory of anything, just a memory, keeping up with big strides on little legs, being together, Andes mint on my tongue. I know not everybody has that kind of vivid sense memory, but I do, and sometimes I don't know how I'd find my way through time without them.
mrissa: (thinking)
Under friendslock, one of my friends asked about "bucket lists" or "life lists," and I decided that I should edit my comment to be suitable to repost here: I have deliberately not done that thing, and I intend to keep deliberately not doing it.

I know my own personality and attachment to lists. There are people who could make a list like that and not have it get in the way of them scrapping bits of it to do other fascinating things instead. I am not one of them. What I want to do before I die is continue to cultivate an attitude that allows me to take advantage of the interesting opportunities that come my way, and to continue to create those opportunities from sheer stubbornness if need be.

Most of the best things in my life are not things I could predict in advance. Many of them are predicated on relationships with specific people, and you can't always control all the variables--if I'd been fixated on taking Lillian to a play last spring, I'd have been disappointed, because she wasn't really ready to go when we had tickets to take her and Rob to the Ernie and Bert musical. I think now she is, and we're going to try "Annie" this spring, and in the meantime we had a lovely time with just Rob. Other things are opportunities that come up in unpredictable ways--my parents, for example, would not have put Germany on their "bucket list," but when they had an opportunity to go because of Dad's work, they had a fabulous time and still talk fondly about it among the many trips they've enjoyed. Even in the things we theoretically knew we wanted to do, some of the best moments have been completely unexpected opportunities. When we went to London with the grands, we had no idea they'd be using Buckingham Palace as a screen for projecting pictures in memory and honor of those who served in WWII--but it was really neat that they did, and my grandmother got into a good conversation with an Englishwoman sitting next to us on the kerb watching. The woman talked about her father's WWII service, Grandma talked about her brother who died on the beachhead at Anzio, and they hugged before we parted ways. Grandma would never have written down, "talk about WWII while watching photos on Buckingham Palace" on her bucket list, but it affected her quite strongly.

I occasionally struggle a little with the fact that Grandpa and I didn't get to Alaska together before he died. Going to 49 of the US states together seems worse somehow than only 43, although I would not by any means skip the last six we did, and I remind myself that's what that means--or skipping the London trip, which was wonderful, the one Grandpa listed as his favorite. But if I had not had this damnable vertigo, going to Alaska would have been a good time together, and then if he hadn't gotten that damnable bronchitis and all that followed. And the thing is, I don't want to do that. I want to cultivate an attitude of being glad for the things we did--49 states, for the love of Pete! not to mention the Canadian provinces and more distant foreign countries!--and not sorry for the things we didn't get to do. For some people, the bucket list/life list is a way of remembering their priorities, and I think it's great for people who have the mindset to use it that way--or who need to make that kind of list to get there. For me it would be a source of regret, when I'd rather consider things in terms of opportunity.

I've only said the v-word once here, but it's pretty important. We hope that I can get the vertigo under control and keep it that way from here on out, but I'm also realistic that we don't actually know whether that'll happen. And I would far rather find things that will be wonderful with the abilities I do have than fixate on what I thought would be wonderful at 20, 25, 30, whatever, and spend my time seeing the ways I've been limited instead of the ways I've found ways to enjoy the life I have. Some people find a bucket list a good way to enjoy the lives they have, and that's great. But this is why I don't think it would be that for me.
mrissa: (grandpa)
Last year at this time, Grandma was still in the hospital and we were working on getting her sprung for the holiday, which we did. And last year at this time, I was caught up enough in worry about Grandma and in the fresh grief of our first Christmas without Grandpa that I didn't say about Grandpa and unwrapping presents. So I think I will, since we are Christmas Eve present people, aside from stockings.

We have a strict present protocol that easily admits for additional people without a whimper: gifts are opened one at a time, going around those assembled youngest to oldest and then starting again with the youngest when everyone has had one. This is How We Do It, and Grandpa firmly supported this tradition with no hint of wanting things any different.

Except that it did take rather a long time to get around to his turn again.

So he would start by taking the bows off. Nobody could count taking the bows off as unwrapping presents! Why, you might not even put a bow on in the first place! So its removal did not count as un-wrapping, since the bow was not strictly necessary for wrapping!

In years past, he had a middle step that modern giftwrap took from him: he would ease the gift tag off. Mostly we use the sticker kind now, although this year I have a bunch I've taped on, and it's made me smile thinking of Grandpa and how he would have liked them better because it would have given him something to do: slitting the tape with his fingernails, carefully not tearing the tag so he could brandish it when his turn finally came around: "This one is from Deb and Dan," or, "Dave got me this one."

Then, if other people took too long to linger over admiring things he didn't care about--things that were not books, for example, although that wasn't all of it--he would start to slide his nail or his pocketknife through the tape on the ends of the package. Not unwrapping it! Just getting it started a little! So then when it was his turn, the paper would all come off in an immediate flourish, whoom!

And every year Mother and I would protest. "Daddy, cut that out! Come on, Pop!" "Grandpa, you cheated! Play fair, Grandpa!" And he would return fire on the protests. "I didn't open them! I just got them started a little!"

I think this is why he was given the job of collecting other people's torn and discarded wrapping paper: to slow down the process of "getting them started a little."

I'm off to get going on things so that I can have my Christmas Eve Day time with my dad before my Christmas Eve time with the rest of my side of the family. Hope that those of you who are celebrating Christmas Eve are having a good one, and the rest of you are having a happy Friday.
mrissa: (grandpa)
One of the things I have been remembering about my grandpa lately is how little tolerance for stupidity he had. This may fall under the category of not discussing the faults of the dead, but in the context of his relationship with me it didn't feel like a fault, not the least little bit. He had no problem whatever with educating the ignorant, and his patience with people who were not naturally very quick-witted or were handicapped or had learning disabilities of whatever kind was a lot more extensive than most people's. It was people who could readily learn better and wouldn't who got to him, and he was always quick to make sure I knew that was what he meant. He would call me up when he was dealing with a particular group of people that frustrated him often, and he would say, "Rissy...they've apparently got stupid lying around over there that they haven't even used up yet...but they're trying." And I would say, "Let no one say they're not trying." (I had delighted, when I was about 5 or 6, in the dual meaning of "you're trying," and Grandpa and I sort of kept that as a thing between us for the rest of the time we had together.)

He also had some "saltier" expressions about The Dumb, maybe from his time in the Marines, and a few he cleaned up for me. He was very fond of "when God was handing out brains, so-and-so thought He said trains, and he/she didn't want to go anywhere." He laughed and laughed when I suggested, right before I got married, that this explained [ profile] markgritter (Mark is very fond of trains). He also used "too dumb to pour pee out of a boot" (which I know was cleaned up from the Marine version) and sometimes "too dumb to pour pee out of a boot with a spigot on the toe and instructions on the heel."

But my personal favorites were "he couldn't find his ass with both hands and a map" or "he couldn't find his ass with a torch and a native guide." When I was maybe 6, I came to him anxiously--I wasn't supposed to have overheard Grandpa fulminating about someone's stupidity quite so vehemently in the first place--and asked if he knew that a British person would think he meant a flashlight and a native guide. He kept an absolutely straight face and decided that he was all right with that. He had another one with an actual flashlight in it, but I'm forgetting it.

I haven't been running into particularly egregious stupidity lately, so I'm not sure why this is at the top of my stack. I think maybe it's because it makes me smile or laugh thinking of my grandpa sighing and rolling his eyes. Also because one of the things I love about Foyle's War is that Christopher Foyle doesn't suffer fools gladly either, and they often let him take the said fools completely to bits sometime in the course of the episode, and some of the things he does when he does that remind me a bit of Grandpa, though I didn't put my finger on it right away.
mrissa: (winter)
On Spec has just told me that they would like to buy "Carter Hall and the Motley Lions."

This is not just any Carter Hall story. This is the one I wrote the first week my grandpa was in the hospital. The original idea was that I would write it for [ profile] pameladean, but it ended up also being for Grandpa and for his friend Milt. It's got the Tooth Fairy in addition to lions and old guys.

I am pleased.
mrissa: (grandpa)
I am at the bit of The True Tale of Carter Hall where the Queen of Air and Darkness has turned Tam into a serpent and she still has to hang on. I am describing Janet holding this bloody great serpent.

And in my head all I can hear is my grandpa's voice saying, "They're not slimy! People think they're slimy, but they're not, they're dry and scaly."

He was really concerned that I not grow up to be a girl who was squeaky about snakes. I don't know how much of this book he would have liked, but he would have liked that I was clear that they were not slimy. And he would have known that was there for him.
mrissa: (reading)
Today is the anniversary of my grandpa's death. I am doing about like you'd expect with that. Over the last year I've gotten more perspective on how much he would have hated to lose mental acuity etc., so I am grateful he never did. But I still could have done with lots more Grandpa time. I keep thinking about how he told us dying was like learning to breathe underwater. I think I'm going to turn that one over in my head for quite some time.

Anyway. Books this fortnight.

Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Five Revolutions That Made Modern Europe, 1648-1815. This is not what it says on the label. It's a really good history of Europe in the 18th century (acknowledging that neat and tidy dates don't always match up with social changes), with all sorts of chewy stuff about agriculture and manufacturing and travel and art and science and the good bits--if it slights anything, it's the Napoleonic Wars, which you can get elsewhere easily. I highly recommend it. But if you're primarily interested in revolutions, it will not be much good to you. I strongly suspect that the publisher felt that it needed a hook to get people to buy it, because for a lot of people "Hey, look! The 18th century!" is not that great a draw. But it should be that great a draw, because the 18th century has all sorts of fascinating bits.

Steven R. Boyett, The Architect of Sleep. Evolved raccoons! This was one of those books that was essentially an exploration of a setting, but done in a way that did not become annoying to me. It does not, however, end. It just sort of stops. I'm told that Boyett has published a sequel to another of his books from the same period, so I suppose I can hope for an ending one of these days, but it looked like it was really starting to go somewhere, and then I was out of book. Sigh.

Kylie Chan, White Tiger. This is pure wish-fulfillment fantasy. The main character starts out as a dumpy, mousy Australian nanny in Hong Kong, and with every skill she acquires, I thought, "Yyyyyeah, of course she's awesome at this too." But it was done so charmingly that I didn't actually mind and will be reading later books in the series as soon as I get my hands on them. It was fun. And, y'know, I think it's okay to have a book wherein the heroine discovers her own true level of awesomeness with the help of her new even-more-awesome friends. For some of us that's called college, but there are other places for it, too.

Mette Ivie Harrison, Mira, Mirror. I was all right with most of this book, which goes on from the Snow White story from the perspective of the mirror. But I hated the very ending. I thought it was implausible and badly set up and also not incidentally encouraged one of the major lines of excuse abusers try to make for themselves. Wheee! So: not recommended. Really not.

James Reston, Jr., Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536. This is not what it says on the label either. Publishers! I blame them, I do. In this case there was remarkably little Suleyman the Magnificent, not enough Charles V to really account for half of the book (much less the 85% the comparative dearth of Suleyman left), and lots and lots of stuff like the English Reformation. My theory is that anybody who is really fascinated with this era already knows the basics of the English Reformation, thankyakindly, and would have liked to find out more about the rest, particularly as we were promised parallels between how Charles V had to deal with Protestantism and how Suleyman had to deal with the Sunni/Shi'ite split in Islam. Those parallels were not delivered because there was--I tell you again--not nearly enough Suleyman. Ah well. Still had interesting tidbits here and there.
mrissa: (grandpa)
This morning I woke up with my grandpa's voice singing a medley of Credence Clearwater Revival songs in my head. He sang "Looking Out My Back Door" and "Up Around the Bend" and, just as I was waking up, "Bad Moon Rising."

Of course he didn't sing the right words to "Bad Moon Rising." He never did. He loved mistaken lyrics.

I think in some families this would be a disturbing experience, but I found it very comforting. Settling.

82nd, first

Feb. 1st, 2010 09:00 am
mrissa: (grandpa)
Today would have been Grandpa's 82nd birthday. It is the first of his birthdays we are observing without him.

I liked it better the other way.
mrissa: (grandpa)
Our library uses an auto-dialer when people have requested materials, so from time to time the phone will ring and ask for "MARESSA" in its robot voice. (I don't know what's wrong with its i's. They're terrible.) This time it noted that I needed to get to the library to pick up these materials "before February 1."

That is, before Grandpa's birthday.

And I had to smile, because getting to the library is exactly the sort of thing Grandpa would want me to do for his birthday. I can't count the number of times we went to the library together when I was little, which is more remarkable given that we lived several hundred miles apart. The Brooklyn Park library was very modern then, in the 1980s: it had been redecorated in bright primary colors, with royal blue tile and royal blue squodgy chairs in the children's section. It was in the same building as some other county stuff, and I remember walking into the building and turning to go to the library and thinking how nice it was that the judges and the lawyers and the juries and the people on trial could all go to the library after to get books and calm down if they were stressed out or upset by the verdict or the process. And I thought they should put good big libraries in more buildings, hospitals and office buildings and things, and people would be better for it, happier and calmer and quieter. I don't think I ever shared this thought with Grandpa, because I didn't need to, because it was too obvious that we would be in agreement on this.

There was never any question whether Grandpa would turn me loose in the children's section. He had his own books to attend to, and we both would have regarded anyone with scorn who wasn't sure whether I could handle myself in a library without help. And I would pick my books and settle into one of the squodgy blue chairs, and eventually Grandpa would come round and see if I was ready, and then we'd stop off at White Castle for him to get coffee and me to get hot chocolate, if it was winter, or at Dairy Queen for him to get a chocolate malt and me to get a banana-Heath bar blizzard if it was summer.

Later, when he and Grandma had moved down to Omaha where the folks and I were living at the time, he would take me to the downtown library or the university library if I needed to do research for a school project or something and the local library wouldn't do. Grandpa was very clear on "or something" having a broad interpretation for a girl who needed to look into things the school wasn't much interested in, because he was interested in things the school wasn't much interested in, too. And sometimes on the way home from that we'd stop in at Pageturners used bookstore on Dodge Street and see what they had there and go next door to the Cris Rexall drugstore to have chocolate malts, both of us, at the soda fountain. Mostly I went to the drugstore for malts with my friends while bookstoring, but sometimes with Grandpa too, on the way back from the library.

Later still, he would call me up and tell me that he'd been to the Ralston Public Library to see [ profile] greykev--he started going there instead of Millard Branch because of Kev--and after that he'd call to tell me that he'd been to the Ralston Public and they sure did miss [ profile] greykev around there now that he was off to school. (This is partly pure truth and partly Scandosotan Male for, "I sure do miss [ profile] greykev around here now that he's off to school.")

So yes, o library autodialer, I can make sure to get my library books by Grandpa's birthday. No problem.

The thing about my relationship with my grandpa is that I feel like it would take more effort not to do things to remember and honor him. The things to do to remember and honor him are so thick on the ground around here.

September 2017

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