Grandaddy is a fine southern gentleman, slow and steady, quick to smile with a delightful sparkle in his eye. I can remember many summer afternoons growing up that were spent in my grandparent's house on Twin Oaks Drive. The front yard contained a weeping willow that was ideal for climbing and a crab apple tree whose harvest made for perfect ammunition for my more vengeful cousins. The girls preferred to gather it as hidden treasure, much needed food for the dolls who served as our starving children. What's so funny to me is that in all our pretend play, my cousin Audrey and I were always single moms. Our "husbands" were always away on business or, to our nine and ten year old morbid delight, had died of some horrible illness leaving us to fend for ourselves and the welfare of our children (which were "My Child" dolls, remember those?)
Sometimes we'd wander into Grandaddy's mechanic shop out back. It was crammed full of odd engine pieces, old rags, and it had this particular smell of oil, Windex and car grease. I remember that no matter how often he scrubbed his hands, his fingernails always had a dark ring around them, remnants of the hard work he'd been doing all day. Sometimes he would call to us, "You girls want to go down to the Mac-a-Donalds for an ice cream cone?" And we always did. So we would pile into the old, olive green Dodge Dart where the smell of Grandmother's Marlboro Lights still lingered from the last drive. The mesh seat coverings wove a tight knit pattern onto our bare summer legs and there was nowhere else we'd rather be.
We lost Grandmother two years ago and Grandaddy has surprised all of us with his resilience and his newfound energy and wit. This 82 year old man goes out two-steppin' every Saturday night. He takes Christine with him every week and it has been an interesting thing to watch my grandaddy...date? This year at family Christmas, someone asked him,
"Glenn, how's your girlfriend doing?"
"Oh, she's just my pal." A slow, sweet smile spreads across Grandaddy's face.
"Well, y'all go dancing every weekend, don't you?"
"Oh, well yes, we do that, but she's just my lady friend." I'm listening with interest at this point and Grandaddy turns to look at me with twinkling eyes, secretly loving the attention I think.
"When y'all go dancing, who do you dance with?"
"Well...Christine dances with whoever she wants to, and I dance with whoever she tells me to."
And that's just the way he likes it.