When Grandma Jean was close to her last days, I flew home from Alaska to be here with the family. I stayed in this house with Grandpa and twenty-two years of memories. I slept in the small bedroom off of the living room in the twin bed Grandma took naps in. I think I cried more tears that year than I have shed in my entire life. The night Grandma passed away, I slept beside aunt Sandy in the pink room. I was in the process of crying myself to sleep when I heard Grandpa laughing in the dining room. Moments later, he peeked in the room and quoted one of David Letterman’s jokes. I can’t remember what it was, but I am sure Grandpa’s delivery beat Letterman’s.
The entire time I was home for the funeral I stayed here on Sell Street with Grandpa. When I returned to Alaska, I called him everyday – sometimes twice each day. I was living in a town named Klawock [Kl-uh-wok] and whenever I’d call, he’d answer the phone, “HELLOOOO Klee-wock!!” He was even calling me ‘Little Kleewock’ for a while. I called him so often that I had managed to memorize the calling card number, plus the sixteen digit pass code. I bet if I picked up the old cordless phone I had, I’d still remember it.
I’ve always been close with Grandma and Grandpa, but I think after Grandma died was when Grandpa and I became good buddies. I remember meeting up with some of my friends from college and bringing Grandpa along with me. We sat and talked about interpreting for well over an hour and Grandpa just sat with us patiently. There was one Christmas I was living in Alaska and had decided not to come home for the holiday break. Well, that did not fly. Grandpa bought the airline ticket and I flew home on a red-eye.
Sitting in the living room tonight, Grandpa and I are both in our recliners with blankets on our laps. He keeps falling asleep watching Monday Night Football, but occasionally wakes up to ask if I’m still here. He says that I’m quieter than a mouse.
Whenever we drive somewhere, he wants to listen to classic country on 104.9 FM. He’ll turn on the radio and start singing along with George Jones and Don Williams.
When we’re driving home, he’ll guess where we are, and most of the time, he’s right. He can tell the curve in the road by the courthouse. He knows the right turn onto Highway 52 and knows I always take 18th Street — not the 13th Street hill.
Whenever I can tell Grandpa’s having a rough day, just talking about Nolan, Madeline, and Gunner will turn that around.
Everyday he tells me he doesn’t know what he would do without me. Whenever he says that, I always think to myself, “Would this be a good time to tell him we need a puppy?”