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He was my father's father. I remember when he would visit us on Saturday mornings with my grandmother. He would always take me for a ride in his white Ford Falcon with the red interior. I'd make him turn on the A.M. radio so I could press all the buttons! Then I would climb in the back seat and fetch his plaid beret off the back window ledge. I would put it on him as he drove ... a distinguished Frenchman was he ... mustache and all! He would often take me to the bakery for crumbcake and jelly doughnuts.
When we returned home, I always made him show me the motor. I would unhook the latch-bar, while he held up the hood. After he secured everything, we would gawk at the hot motor together. It was a straight 6. Sometimes he would check the oil. I remember his short-sleeved plaid cotton shirts, khaki pants and his argyle socks. I would sit for hours on the arm of his green chair while he smoked his pipe.
The humidor, containing his pipes and tobacco, became a ritual chest which I brought to him to hear him explain its contents. It was like being read an old familiar fairy tale. I knew how the story went, but felt so special inside knowing that he was willing to take the time to explain it to me one more time! He never rushed me or became impatient. He even gave me a small pipe of my own to keep.
He had that Grandfather smell ... Old Spice, Chesterfield King non-filters and nicotine-stained fingers. He would smoke them down till the butts burned his fingers. Then he would flick them under the same bush, as we sat for hours on the front stoop or in the driveway, passing away summer afternoons drinking Dr. Pepper and sharing simple conversation. There was a sweetness behind his senility, and a tenderness that emanated from beyond his arthritic frame.
He always had time for me. He was Henry the Frenchman, an alcoholic to his wife and children. To me, he was simply "Pops," a king in my eyes ... an ex-telephone man who loved his tools. We would often fix things together, especially the lawnmower. His hands were gentle, steady and healed me more than once. I remember the time I was stung by a bee, and he mixed up a mud poultice to neutralize the venom. Ironically, I received his blessing in ways that my father did not.
I loved my grandfather in ways I am only now starting to acknowledge. Thank you, Pop. Thank you for that piece of your life which you gave to me! It is in my bones, and helps to hold me up a little taller, as I walk through life. This is the part that now feeds my girlfriend's son. He craves it from me as I once did from you.
I can see it emanating from me as I apply a fresh piece of aloe vera to his scraped-up kneecap. I feel your patience in me as I quietly teach him to play chess or read him Grimm's fairy tales at bedtime. It feels good to be part of goodness!
Daniel Lorey is an astrologer and author from New York.
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