My California Grandpa
The Christmas Present got me thinking about Grandpa–my mother’s father. Here’s what I’ve concluded: In my list of influential men in my life, especially my childhood, my California Grandpa would stand at the top of the ‘good guys’ list!
A few months ago I found out he was a child of divorce. I would never have dreamed this about him. I knew from way back that his wife, my Grandma Z, abandoned him and his two children (my mother and her younger brother), and filed for divorce. Back then I saw her as the villain, and Grandpa as the innocent victim. As an adult, I know it takes two to make a relationship work. That means there’s probably a lot more I don’t know about Grandpa.
Still, if I put him side by side with my father and other men I encountered as a child, Grandpa wins first prize for positive influence. He was a bright spot in a sometimes scary childhood. He was like a kid himself. He knew what kids wanted and needed, and he knew how to get right down there with them. In my memory, he’s the one person who most encouraged me to be myself as a child. Just the way I was.
When I married, Grandpa ‘gave me away’ to my future (now present!) husband. My father officiated at our double wedding with Sister #2 and her beloved. So we had ‘giving away’ stand-ins. I got Grandpa! In our wedding pictures he looks like a short, mischievous elf. Proud, happy, honored and thrilled to walk me down the aisle. I was equally thrilled to have him playing that role.
I sometimes wonder what my childhood might have been without his presence, his cards and his letters. I know from my mother that he wasn’t happy about her marriage to my father. But he never let on to any of us, and never asked for reports on how things were going. He just kept showing up in person, going with us on adventures to the zoo and the park, and writing Grandpa love-letters to his little women.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 16 December 2014