I Didn't Say That #12
It’s Veterans Day, which years ago became the the day I spend in my head with my grandpa. So I will be eschewing the usual IDST format this week to take a few more steps down that long and strange road.
My mom recently scanned a bunch of old photos. I went looking through the ones of my grandpa today and felt very drawn to this one.
Where is he? What’s he writing? When is this? I don’t know. But I like going where my imagination takes me. It’s like looking at a still from a familiar dream.
Grandpa again, many years later, with my grandma, whom I also miss and have an inner duffel bag of good memories and silly regrets about. At some point when I was a kid, I took a liking to Elvis. Grandma thought that was great. The older I get, the more I understand why. Anyway, this photo stood out to me because of what it says on the back.
My interest in Hemingway took root long after both my grandpa and grandma had died. But I love that they went to his house, and I suspect that they would love that I love that they went to his house. Were they fans of his? I don’t know. But if they were, I think that’s great. Oh, how I’d love to shoot the shit with them about A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea. Some other time, perhaps. Where they’ve gone from their bodies, and where I’ll go from mine, is the greatest of the great unknowns. In an email to someone the other day, I wrote that I don’t think our time here is the main event. It’s a sneaking suspicion. Not a firm belief. But something tells me we’ll meet again—some sunny day.
Here’s a better picture of them:
And here’s something I wrote about my grandpa the weekend after Veterans Day 2010. I dug it up from my archive of things created and destroyed last Veterans Day and reposted it here. The crude ouroboros illustration I made for the repost resonates with me even more one year on. Similar to what I wrote in 2010, it’s like looking in a rearview mirror and seeing the trail that led to today, seeing parts of myself in the trail, then looking down and seeing parts of the trail in me.
I remember hearing him walk down the stairs of the basement I’d be passed out in. I remember it happening on late mornings after late nights, and I remember it happening often.
In the basement freezer there were ice cream bars and microwavable White Castle cheeseburgers. He’d take some with him and walk slowly back up the stairs. Not long after he’d walk slowly back down. He’d open the freezer, close it, look my way, then let out something between a chuckle and a giggle and say, “Boy, you don’t know how good you've got it.”
I remember him telling stories about the war. I remember the one where it’s June 5, 1944 and he’s just crashed in a field near the beaches of Normandy. And he’s 22. And it’s how he knows how good I’ve got it.