There's this picture I have of my grandfather. I never knew him. My mom barely did; he died when she was a kid. He's at the beach in the photo, on a boardwalk. He has a wide-brimmed hat, a tweed jacket, a well-tied cravat, pinstriped pants, spats, a little pocket square in his coat pocket. He's one dapper and swanky gentleman, to be sure.
He's got my nose. His eyes are shaded. It looks like his chin might be dimpled.
This photograph is the only physical tie I have to him. It's my bond with him, this photo, folded and tattered and torn. I wish I could have known him. Norman was his name. I feel like I do know him sometimes, just by looking at this old photo on my desk.
My daughter's lucky. I remind her of that sometimes. She's got most all of her grandparents still, and a couple great-grandparents to boot. I hope she can spend as much time with them as she can, soak up as much familial history as she can, laugh with them. Play. Hear stories from them. Tell them her own. I never really got to tell my own to my grandparents.
My mom's dad died when she was a kid. My dad's dad died when I was a baby. Certainly we visited my widowed grandmother's plenty. Flora was my mom's mom. She lived in Northern California. Nellie was my dad's mom, she lived near Portland.
But, truth be told, I was a kid, and I didn't really care too much about who they were. They were old ladies. What did they have to teach me? And, truth be told, they both sort of frightened me and, because of that fact, I didn't like them that much. Of course, I never gave them much of an opportunity, I'm afraid. That'll be my fault for the rest of my days.
Memory of Nellie: Her creepy basement. There was this one room down there filled with musty books and a bed that I swear was slept in by a haunting specter. My siblings can vouch for its creepiness.