Thursday, September 10, 2009

Something Missing

I was driving home from work the other day, flipping through the radio stations, when I heard a familiar song. I instantly stopped scanning the channels and started singing along. It was a song that's been very special to me for a long time, one of my favorites. Not long after I started singing I started to get choked up. For many years this song made me happy. And it still does, although it's a little bitter sweet now. It makes me miss my grandpa.

At his tallest my Grandpa Holley was only about 5'4", and after old age set in, he went down to about 5'2". The grandkids were always excited when they got taller than Grandpa. Except Annie, she only got tall enough to see eye to eye. For as long as I can remember Grandpa had a full head of fine white hair nicely combed to the side. I don't think he bought any new clothes during the last 30 years of his life which usually put him in slacks held up by suspenders, a dated button down shirt with a mother-of-pearl bolo tie, and if we were lucky enough to catch him on a Sunday, a grey fedora hat with a small red feather stuck in the band.

For years when we were kids we would visit my grandparents in their little house up on Cahoon Street in Ogden. All the cousins would gather in the backyard and play tag. We'd run around the perfectly pruned fruit trees and large oval shaped flower bed created and tended by my grandpa. Sometimes he would join us. He would've been in his mid 80s at the time.

When we got tired of running around we'd come inside and lay out on the living room floor with a deck of cards. My grandparents' carpet was perfect for making card houses. After our card houses were built we'd climb up on the couch and admire my grandma's lamp. It was a giant lamp with a bulbous smokey clear glass base. My favorite part of the lamp was its dangling teardrop jewels. I'd take off a couple and pretend to hang them from my ears as earrings. They would've been the most gaudy over the top earrings in the world, but I loved them.

Whenever we went to my grandparents' house we'd sit around and talk. Rather, my grandpa would tell us stories. With a can of Mountain Dew in his hand, he'd tell us about all the trips he and my grandma went on. My grandma would occasionally interrupt and tell us what really happened. He'd tell about his adventures during his youth... about how he was the Utah Kid. He'd tell us about how he met my grandma and how he came to marry her. We'd sit around in their 85 degree house and just listen. At the end of every visit Grandpa would give us each a hug and tell us how proud he was of us. And we knew he really meant it.

My grandma died several years before my grandpa did. He moved around to different retirement homes and we'd go visit him every so often. His adventures continued, but now they consisted of riding his motorized scooter around town and going for drives up the canyons with family members. We sporadically wrote letters back and forth telling each other about what we'd been up to. Occasionally I'd ask for his advice. He'd finish each letter by drawing a stick figure picture of himself with a cane and tell me I was his favorite. He told all of us we were his favorite, but I didn't care. I knew he meant it. I loved getting those letters.

As the song in the car ended and tears trickled down my face, I couldn't help but feel a little hole in my heart. My grandpa died just before Christmas in 2005. I kept his bolo tie. I really miss him a lot.


Rachel said...

I absolutely would have been in love with your Grandpa.

Beautifully written.