Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How do you say goodbye

R.T. Bennett

on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at 6:56pm
When I was very small I lived with my grandparents, Mom, and teenage Aunt in a tiny two bedroom house in Del City. My Grandmother worked downtown in a department store, and Grandfather drove a truck and was gone on the road more often than not. My Mom and my Aunt went to school and I would go stay with a lady named Parsons. At 5pm I would watch the other kids Daddies come to get them. Sometimes Mom said I asked "Why is my Daddy so old?" I thought because everyone called my grandfather Daddy that he was my Daddy too. I just could not get that straight. So to keep the confusion down I just called him Daddy too.
I could always tell when it was time for him to be coming home. My Grandmother would cook a big meal and the house would be all clean. There would be a fresh bar of LAVA soap out in the bathroom for him to wash his hands because they would be dirty from dropping off the load of pipe at the truck yard. Sometimes he didnt get home til late and I would already be in bed. I could hear him come in the door and my Aunt would take his dirty clothes, my Mom would go heat up his dinner and after he washed up my grandma would get him situated on the couch with a big glass of tea and he'd light his cigar. I would wake up and hear all this commotion and knew I should stay in bed. I knew I would probably get in trouble if I got up. I would clutch my pillow and waller around trying to go back to sleep. Finally I figured I'd face the music of trouble because I had to see my Grandpa. I slid down off the bed, put on my little red robe and tiptoed to the doorway. I could peep around the corner and see My grandpa sitting there. I looked and looked but would try to hide when my Mom came in. Finally ( he had already seen me and was tickled to watch me trying not to get caught...) he looked me in the eye and said "Wheres my Suzie?" I ran out and jumped on his lap and hugged him as hard as I could. He would rub his rough whiskers on my cheek and tell me how much he missed me and he had such blue eyes that would laugh when he looked at me. 
He told me when I was a baby before I could talk that one day I was mad because there were all these kids outside that I could see and I wasnt allowed out. I went to the screen door and pulled and cried and had a big fit. Finally I toddled over to where he was , crawled up in his lap, yelled at him, slapped his face, and then fell over on his shoulder and cried and cried till I went to sleep. I guess that was when our realtionship got a little conflicted. 

He took good care of me....

Our shared birthday 9/27/2006
At the hospital Conor and Great Grandpa saying goodbye
When I was in high school he made sure I had a good used car to drive, that I was able to do some special school trips, and he came to my graduation. Every Christmas he gave me a hundred dollar bill and a jar of pickles because I loved them. He fixed my cars, he helped me move, he gave me money if I needed a new dress. He would take me out for mexican food and he would make me chicken salad to take home. Nobody can top his chicken salad. He told my Mom at Christmas to get me some pickles and give them to me...even tho Im 48 and not 12 anymore.

He liked it when Id come over with my little boy. He'd take him into his workshop and show him his lawn mowers. They would talk about fishing and he'd come steal my Grandmas candy and give it to Conor.

After my Grandma died I'd call him and he'd talk to me for a long time. He told me he wanted to go to school and be an engineer but he fell in love with my Grandma and got married instead. He never regretted getting married but always regretted not going to college. That he was a expert marksmen and used to compete in Texas, and wished he had someone to pass that on to.

He worked really hard all his life. Even after he retired he was always working at something for somebody. I figured out about him then, all his life he had worked because it kept his heart quiet. If his heart was quiet he didnt have to think about his problems or regrets or sadness over mistakes he'd made with my Grandmother or his daughters, choices he'd made that were selfish and painful and heart breaking. If he worked he could make something better, or good, or beautiful or useful and maybe it would make things better. Maybe it would help his family love him and forgive him. Maybe to him work WAS love.

He is a complicated man even now. I dont kid myself that he didnt have faults or have some idealized vision of him. But just like he's the man who could hurt your feelings with a sharp word he's also the man who held a little baby who slapped his face, and made me feel like I was his favorite girl no matter how old I was. He is my old old Daddy no matter what...

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