Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dad's dad

My paternal grand-father and his son shared a name. They were Sr and Jr. They shared a love of checkers, cars, Pall-Mall cigarettes and coffee strong and black. From my 7, 8 and 9 year old perspective they were different sides of the same coin. They spoke the same language, they appeared to be the same persona, thirty years apart.

We saw our dad sparingly after the separation (at 7), whenever he did pick us up, he took us to grand-dad’s house. Grand-dad poured us coffee, taught the rudiments of checkers and automobile operation and upon leaving, passed us coins and "be good" noises. He and my dad would hug each other and my dad would promise to stop by, the next day.

It was clear from their interaction, and familiarity, dad did indeed visit his dad often. Every day, my mom would say. Even at my early age, I was struck by the ease of their interactions, for neither was very comfortable with hugging. I’d never seen anyone, but my dad, hug grand-dad. My dad rarely hugged anyone, other than his dad.

My grand-dad died when I was nine. My dad all but disappeared from our lives.

I don’t know about my brothers, but I never played checkers again.

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