Still Fixing My Car

My grandfather gave me my first car. It was 1990, and the car was a 1970 Ford Custom 500 Galaxie. It was seventeen feet long, and it had fins. It had over 200,000 miles on it. It was in pretty much perfect condition.

That was my grandfather. When you spend money on things, he believed, you take care of them. He had a truck that was older than my car. His car, the one he preferred to drive, was their “last new car” when my grandparents bought it in the eighties. It still looked in great shape when I parked in his driveway last month, paying what would be my last visit to a 94-year-old man.

My grandfather stormed the beach at Normandy. I can’t tell you much about that–I am learning now, as I knew I would one day but I was always meaning to do something about it “soon,” that I did not pay enough attention.

Grandpa worked at the Joy manufacturing plant in my hometown, building huge orange mining machines until he retired. He and Grammy ran a farm too, and raised four kids. Grammy worked sometimes, when it was convenient, so she would be able to get Social Security too. Then they moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona, and ran a four-trailer mobile home park in their retirement.

Historians call them “the Greatest Generation.” For my family at least, I know they certainly rose to the challenges of their lives.

I was there when my grandparents celebrated …

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Fourteen Years, In Memoriam

The other night I dreamed that my dad was taking one of my siblings and me for a drive on the West Coast (British Columbia, for you non-Canadians). The timing was contemporary, for we had modern cell phones and we felt like our current adult selves, in that way you know things in dreams.

I didn’t remember until an instant after I woke up that my dad has been dead since 2003.

I don’t think about him often anymore, except right around this time of year. He died in March, late in a bitterly cold prairie winter. The day he was buried, there was a thaw and, finally, everything began to melt. Ever since then, I’ve found late winter difficult to bear. Some years are harder than others; this one has been easier so far, probably because it’s been so unseasonably warm here. Bittersweet for sure.

He feels now like part of another life, one I don’t remember as well as I would wish to. He did get to meet the man who would later become my husband. For that I will always be grateful. But since his death, the two of us have moved across the country, joined or made new communities, established our careers, bought a house, assumed adult responsibilities within our families, traveled to seven countries (eight as you’re reading this!). He didn’t live to see Turtleduck Press or all the writing I’ve done here, or to hold my first novel in his hands. And my two …

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