All That Glitters

       My mother’s father is a very quiet man. While serving his country on a minesweeper in World War II, he learned several important skills that he still maintains to this day. He learned to eat rations. He learned to take 90 second showers. Most importantly, he learned to keep his head down and his eyes deep to avoid explosions.
     My grandmother, his wife, had toxic relationships with all five of her children. Her youngest daughter, my aunt, lived with her parents for several years without once speaking to her mother. They used grandpa as a giant human sticky note for the most important messages… “tell your wife I’m going out of town”… “tell your daughter I have cancer.”
     Like I said, grandpa never had much to say. Once when I was a young driver he gave me a piece of good advice. It was summer and grandpa and I were driving to a local strawberry farm to pick berries. I was still a little nervous about knowing when it was safe to pull out into traffic. Grandpa said, “If you wait long enough, it’ll be clear.” I call that Grandpa’s Law of Traffic. I got another nugget of wisdom from my uncle one day about kids’ art projects. I call it My Uncle’s Law of Glitter. He said, “No matter how much glitter you have, it’s too much!.” I have kids of my own now and I know how true that one is. I’ve got my Grandpa’s Law of Traffic and My Uncle’s Law of Glitter on a special shelf in a room inside of me. It’s my “I Wish I Had a Dad to Give Me Good Advice” room. There’s a lot of good stuff in that room: Aesop, Solomon, Tolstoy, the Reader’s Digest. I’ve been making deposits there since I was a kid.
     Since Grandma died, Grandpa started sending me Christmas Cards. He writes four words: “Merry Christmas, Love, Grandpa.” Grandpa turns 90 this year. I wonder how many more Christmas card’s there’ll be from him.
That makes me think about my dad. I see my dad regularly: about once every five years. We usually spend two days together. After two days we run out of things to say and one of us looks up and says, “Well, I guess I’ll be going now.” My dad’s now in his late sixties. I wonder how many more days there’ll be with him.
      I get jealous when I think about my dad. I’ve held a grudge against all girls named Melissa ever since the day my dad married her mom and she got to be with him instead of me. That marriage didn’t last very long, but I still feel jealous when I think about her. I’m jealous of the guys my dad worked with in the factory. They got to hear his corny jokes and his silly laugh day after day. My dad always laughs harder at his own jokes than anyone else in the room. Those guys had no idea what golden nuggets those laughs would have been for me. How I would have traded almost anything to be there to hear them.
     I guess the truth is I really miss my dad. I miss him in a way that even being with him cannot fix.

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