Yesterday I went home to visit my parents–and my “pawpaw”. You never know what you’re going to get with him. Sometimes he’s visibly angry and others, he’s ready to talk about almost anything. This visit was one of the latter–the good visits. He’s the only grandparent I have left and as difficult as he may be, I have been trying to see him more often. I think he was in a better mood this time because it was a surprise visit. He doesn’t get many of those so I think it was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve also learned to keep him on less volatile subjects. Politics is out of the question when I’m down there because it always leads to an argument. I’ve learned those topics that are easiest to discuss. This time, I started by letting him know I had been thinking about him and all those fishing trips we used to take. He remembered the big carp story, but not the fish to the face one. He promptly went to his office to retrieve one of his favorite pictures from a Michigan trip in 1988.
I don’t remember much about that trip, but it was over the 4th of July weekend and was about 3/4 through Mike’s first chemo. I do recall that it was a gift from Pawpaw. He knew we couldn’t afford it–and needed a vacation–so he treated us to a week up there. The picture was of the 5 of us standing on the beach in front of a lighthouse. I do remember going to the lighthouse and exploring. It wasn’t long until the conversation shifted to fertilizer and then to driving lessons.
Like I said, you have to choose your topics and one of pawpaw’s favorites is his yard. He let it go while mawmaw was in the nursing home, but he started restoring it. The topic came up in the first place because he has two open bags of Scott’s Turf Builder sitting in front of the TV. I thought it was somewhat humorous. It makes sense though because he’s been having some memory issues and having it in front of the TV is a constant reminder to followup. He also doesn’t have anyone to impress anymore. Grandma is gone and nobody visits. So he does things his way, in his own time.
Yesterday I was struck by how much stay the same down there. His house is nearly the same as it was 30 years ago. The same decorative rug hangs on the downstairs wall. His furniture–while newer–is arranged in EXACTLY the same way it was then. The pictures hang where they have always been. The garage and barn haven’t changed. He’s a man of habit and he wants everything in its place–HIS place. In a way, it’s refreshing. When I step into his house, it’s like I’m a 10 year old boy visiting my mawmaw and pawpaw.
Grandpa is 90. He may be here another 20 years but likely much sooner–knowing him, 20 years! There are things about him I don’ t like–things I don’t want to emulate. However, I see a lot of me and my dad in him. By reconnecting with him now, I can better understand more about who I am–and why I am. I didn’t allow myself that chance with my mawmaw. Pride–and hurt feelings–kept me from visiting after I moved to Marion. I’m trying to not allow that to happen again.