I am turning into my Grandpa.
by Bob Brown
In the driveway, I sit in the car, I watch as the lights go on and off in the house. Only moments ago, I uttered a phrase that has marked the routine of our departure for almost 40 years. Like a tired old line that has been repeated too many times, it is met with both resignation and a worn out half smile by my wife, today was no different.
“I will be out in the car, beeping the horn while I wait.”
Now I don’t really sit there beeping the horn… but I do wait. Not just occasionally, but all the time. She can be ready to go, coat on, hand on the door knob and there will always be one more thing she forgot, she can never just leave… that would be too simple.
I start the car, turn on the radio and wonder what on earth could be holding her up this time. I watch the lights go on and off in each room of our house as though it was some secret ritual that must be performed before she can go through the door.
Over the years there has always been a reason, always a story about what had to be done and why she couldn’t have just walked out the door. She would tell me and it will always be something I forgot… or something I said I was going to do but didn’t, and if she hadn’t of done it… why it would have just been… well terrible, or irresponsible or any number of things… all of them bad. I would hear how she had somehow saved the house or the very least our reputation and good standing in the community, all based on her efforts in those last few minutes by remembering those things.
In the first 20 years of marriage, it went like this.
“What the hell were you doing? I thought you said you were ready to go? Can’t you ever just walk out the door? You gotta be better organized! Why can’t we ever leave on time?”
She was met with this barrage of questions before she even shut the car door or had her seatbelt on.
It never went well for either of us back then.
She would try to explain the numerous things that needed to be done and why she was late. In hindsight… I would love to tell you how I offered her encouragement and advice… noble instructions on how this could be avoided in the future. How I shared some of my profound wisdom with her, all done in a calm and nurturing voice. It must have been none of those things, because most of our rides started out in stony silence. Me clenching the steering wheel with her staring straight ahead, in a car that suddenly seemed too small.
By the time we made it to 30 years, our rides just started out in stony silence. I knew she was going to be late, I knew there would always be “something.” She knew that no matter what she said it would make me mad. So, we skipped the whole conversation and just left in silence. I grumbled and bit my lip, but never said a word. She put on her seat belt as though it was an act of defiance, pushed back in her seat and let out a gasp of disgust.
We just had a fight and nobody said a word. This is the true measure of a long and happy marriage, the same results with none of the foreplay.
We are now coming up on our 40th anniversary this October. Some things are starting to make sense to me now. I remember my Grandfather, the way he looked at my Grandmother. They both still had that twinkle in their eyes when they looked at each other, even though they were old and gray. I remember seeing him pat her on the rump one time when I was 11… I couldn’t imagine why old people would do such a thing. He was smiling and it was hard for me to believe… but it looked like, she liked it.
As I watch Linda cross the driveway today it seems like only a short time ago that she wore a mini skirt and platform shoes. I clearly remember as a teenager, her smile and the gleam in her eyes as she climbed into my car…seems like only yesterday.
Today I ask her if she has all her stuff? We make small talk as we leave the driveway, both of us thankful for the time we get to spend with each other. I think now I understand my Grandfathers patience, and the twinkle in his eyes when he looked at my grandmother… and it only took me 40 years.
“i joined the WF 3 1/2 years ago with the goal of learning how to write. While I have always been a story teller I never had even the basic skills to be able to write a story. Over the years I have had the personal help of many of the WF members and staff. I posted my stories. I was helped with my writing and basic grammar, which I still struggle with. I entered the writing challenges here and slowly improved. While I was discouraged at first, I was also encouraged and challenged.
For the new writer who comes here and is looking for a place to learn the craft, it can be accomplished here. I have submitted over 30 stories here over the years, just about all of the autobiographical to some degree. I write what I know and looking back through any of my stories, they all give a pretty good insight into who I am.”