Grandpa and Me
© Copyright 2009 by Tim DiMella. All Rights Reserved.
Cover Design, Illustration, and Book Layout by Tim DiMella
Photograph by Debbie Rozanski
Michael Eugene Assaloné
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: “My Grandpa”……………..…………………… 1
CHAPTER 1: “Hello, Grandpa”………………………………………. 3
CHAPTER 2: “Laughter and Grandpa”……….…………………. 5
CHAPTER 3: “Work, Grandpa, Work!”…………………………. 7
CHAPTER 4: “Grandpa Loves”…………………………..………….. 8
CHAPTER 5: “Grandpa Likes Discipline”………………………. 9
CHAPTER 6: “Grandpa has Faith”…………………………………. 10
CHAPTER 7: “Grandpa Sees”…………..…………….………………. 12
EPILOGUE: “Eulogy for Grandpa” .…………….………………. 13
To understand this book, you need to understand my Grandfather. Grandpa is an Italian man, first generation American, 96 years of age in May at the time of this book, not tall but not short either. He is a logical man, and a delightful man. Grandpa likes his church, Grandpa likes his home. Grandpa loves his children. Grandpa’s children are all grown. Grandpa’s wife had passed, his oldest daughter too. This made Grandpa sad, this makes Grandpa like me, this makes Grandpa like you. Grandpa has a deep, grumbling voice, stern yet kind. Grandpa shines. Grandpa doesn’t see, so well sometimes—or does he?
Grandpa says little. Grandpa shows little—to Grandpa, that is. Grandpa has never shown little to me, his grandson, even when he intends. When I see Grandpa, I see Grandpa’s heart. Grandpa has a kind heart. Sometimes, Grandpa tries to make his mind replace his heart. Who is my Grandpa? It is not only me who asks that. Who is Grandpa, indeed? This is why I wrote this book, just about Grandpa and me. Is it a book about what I wish to see, or is it Grandpa to a tee? Grandpa will read and he will decide. You aren’t so lucky; you’ll just have to believe what I write. But this I know is true, that when I write in love, you’ll know my Grandpa too.
There are stories I know of Grandpa from his friends and family who know him. Grandpa’s like this because this is what happened to Grandpa. Grandpa does that because Grandpa had that done to Grandpa. Is there truth in what they say? Some, perhaps. But who knows the real truth about Grandpa, except Grandpa? Who knows what Grandpa thinks and who knows how Grandpa feels?
But I’d like to think I know my Grandpa. Grandpa is love. Grandpa is love. That’s my Grandpa!
“My boy! Shhh.”
“Yes, I knoooow, Grandpa.”
So, this is Grandpa and me, me and Grandpa together and free. Say what you will, say what you won’t, whether you believe, or whether you don’t.
And now, here is Grandpa and me.
In our desert, our peaceful place, I face Grandpa and Grandpa faces me. We both hover over the ground crouched with our legs criss-crossed and our arms to the side. It is dusk and the site is enveloped in mist, but not fog. You view us from our sides—me on your right and Grandpa on your left. Past us in the background is the dark mountain, not unlike the mountains of the Rockies, a little lower, but higher than the Alleghenies. And beyond that is red sky embroidered with sunburst as far as the eye can see. It is not sunny right now where we are. It’s mystic, and it is beautiful. It does get real sunny at times. But at times, like these, it is quiet and our images are noticeable.
Curvatures of our faces are defined. The mountains are defined. The sky is defined. The ground is defined with its brownish tinge, with no tree or plant impeding its way up to the mountain’s base. And so, it is Grandpa and me in the foreground, he facing me and I facing him in hover together. He sees you and I see you too. Shhh. It’s time to talk to Grandpa.
“Hello, Grandpa,” says I with my eyes giving a soft stare into Grandpa’s soul.
“Hello,” says Grandpa a bit confused about why I am here. “What do you want, my boy?”
“Grandpa, why does the dragon chase the rabbit? Why does the rabbit not get caught?”
“What?” asks Grandpa.
I say it again. “Why does the dragon chase the rabbit? Why does the rabbit not get caught?”
“I don’t know,” says Grandpa. “Maybe because the dragon is fast? But the rabbit is more clever?”
That’s Grandpa. Even when I say nonsense, Grandpa believes in me. He gives me the credit that I’m not crazy.
“Maybe, Grandpa. But I think the dragon chases the rabbit because he doesn’t know he’s a dragon. And the rabbit doesn’t get caught because the rabbit eggs on the dragon by turning his head back towards the dragon stupefied at the dragon’s ignorance of who the dragon really is. But the rabbit is too small for the dragon to grasp on to.”
“In other words,” adds Grandpa, “Stop chasing things that are improbable to catch.”
Did I mention that Grandpa is the king of his castle? He stays at home a lot? He likes it there.
That’s my Grandpa!
“Laughter and Grandpa”
Grandpa laughs. He laughs well.
“What do you laugh about, Grandpa?”
“I laugh about many things. I laugh about the stars. I laugh about my life. I laugh about the time. I laugh in my mind.”
“A chicken saw a man in the distance and waved goodbye to him. Why does the man cry?”
“The man cries because he cannot fly,” answers Grandpa.
“Fly where, Grandpa? Fly where?”
“He cannot fly where the seeds are plentiful on top of the ground. He cannot fly to the moon. He cannot fly too soon.”
“Fly, Grandpa, Fly!”
“I cannot fly. I cannot fly!”
“Why, Grandpa, why?!”
“It’s not time.” Grandpa cries.
“So, when it’s time, I guess the rabbit will go away and the chicken will fly.”
“In other words,” says Grandpa, “When it’s my time, I won’t be ignored. Jesus will certainly knock on my door.”
Grandpa laughs that sentimental laugh. “That’s good,” as he takes out his white handkerchief from his back pocket and blows his nose. “That’s good, my boy.”
Did I mention that Grandpa uses his handkerchief a lot?
That’s my Grandpa!
“Work, Grandpa, Work!”
Grandpa works. Oh, Grandpa works very hard. He has worked hard forever. Watch Grandpa work. I get that hard work from Grandpa (and Grandpa’s daughter).
“Grandpa, a tree is high in the distance and all a man has is a piece of string. How will the man fell the tree to begin building his house?”
“How far away is the tree?” asks Grandpa.
“How long is your string?” answers me.
“Ahh, the string and the tree are connected!” says Grandpa.
“Yes. So how will you fell the tree?”
“I will pull on the tree each day, diligently, slow and methodically for however long it takes to fell the tree.”
“But how will you fell the tree, Grandpa, if your tree won’t fall before your time? How will you build your house?”
“I will use the string to climb the tree and make the tree my house.”
In other words, stop letting others distract me and string me along. Leave me be to keep working on my house.”
Did I mention that Grandpa likes to work on his house? Work, Grandpa, work! Work on your house. That’s my Grandpa!
“Grandpa, if a crow flies out of sight, how do you know where the crow will land?”
“Well, you don’t know,” replies Grandpa.
“But what if the crow lands in a field?”
“Then, I guess that is where it lands.”
“Grandpa, love to me is like a crow that lands in a field and finds peace there for the rest of its life.”
“Won’t it fly to another field?”
“No, I don’t think so. I think once a crow finds its own field, then that is where it will live forever.”
“Ahh, says Grandpa. What you are saying is that once you find love, it stays in you forever.”
Did I mention that Grandpa loves? Grandpa likes to love. He doesn’t say it a lot, and he doesn’t show it like you really know, so it’s kind of out of sight a lot too. But it’s always right here in me, where it landed a long time ago.
“I love you, Grandpa.”
“Thank you, my boy.”
That’s my Grandpa!
“Grandpa Likes Discipline”
“Grandpa, if a boy leans on a lamppost and then kicks his leg, will he find what he wants?”
“You got me on this one.”
“I mean . . .”
“Wait, wait! Okay, I get it. If he kicks his leg, he’ll lose his balance and he’ll slip off the lamppost.”
“No, he never loses his balance.”
“What’s he kicking?”
“He is kicking what is not there, but he thinks it’s there.”
“Is the lamp on the lamppost on or off?”
“Oh, okay, what you are saying is why kick and fight, if you have something sturdy to lean on that illuminates your life.”
“The answer, my boy, is that the boy already has what he wants, but he distracts himself from having it.”
Did I mention that my Grandpa is sturdy? He sheds light on everything he sees.
That’s my Grandpa!
“Grandpa has Faith”
“Grandpa, if a pine needle says stop, but the beetle says go, how does the green grass flow?”
“Flow, huh? Well how does green grass flow? I say by the wind.”
I think Grandpa’s getting used to how I speak. Grandpa’s really getting to know me, and I’m getting to know Grandpa more and more too.
“So, who must the green grass listen to—the pine needle or beetle?”
“The green grass listens to no one, my boy. The pine needle and beetle may both be in the grass and the pine needle may get thrashed (around in the wind) and the beetle may like the wind, but they have no say over the wind, nor does the grass.”
“So the pine needle, the beetle, and the grass must give up control on which way they go?”
“Ahh, I see what you’re saying. The pine needle has no say because it is low in the grass. The beetle tries to fight the wind and tries to maneuver but it can’t see outside the grass. So what you want to know is in what direction should you go. Which direction does real life or the green grass flow.”
“Who makes the needle, who makes the wind, who makes the beetle, who will be there in the end?”
“This is not an easy question. For the answer, you must go further, and come with me throughout this place and I will show you.”
Grandpa says for you to come too. So come on as we fly high and on through.
“If you look close, you will see,
A river in you and a river in me.
And up ahead is where we meet.
“Oh, look, the Harbor of Hope! That’s neat!”
“Yes, and now there is Hope.
Here we are. Go ahead and grab that rope.”
“Now that we’re in Hope,
Look around, look real close.
Do you see in the distance your Heavenly Host?
So whenever you quiver,
just focus on the River,
and you’ll see,
Him happy and free.
Then you’ll have hope,
and be able to cope.”
“So, now let’s go back home and talk face to face. How was that? What would you name this place?”
Did I mention that Grandpa has Faith?
That’s my Grandpa!
“Grandpa, why is cold sometimes hot, and the desert sometimes not?”
“My boy, when is truth telling a lie and some who are elated always must cry?”
Ahh, Grandpa knows me! I think we’ve spent enough time here for me to see.
“Grandpa, I don’t see a desert anymore. Through my eyes, I see paradise.”
“You understand, my boy, you see. Yes, positively, you see. So, where is warm and where is norm?”
“In me, Grandpa? In me?”
“Yes, my boy.”
Did I mention that my grandson sees love as clearly as me?
That’s my Grandson!
“Goodbye, my boy”
And goodbye to you, my friend, too. I’m glad you could see, my Grandpa and me.
“Eulogy for Grandpa”
Grandpa died in 2013. He was 100 years old. When I was young, I asked my grandfather one day if we could be very close and come to have intimacy in our relationship, and he said, “Tim, I’m just not that way.” That made me feel very sad. Then one day, after I grew up more, I realized that if you give your heart away, you also give to people your truth also. And usually, it impacts them to the point of giving their truth back to you in some way.
Grandpa told me his truth. It was the most honest, sincere, and heartfelt thing Grandpa ever said to me. Five little words can say so much—“I’m just not that way” he said to me. Was he talking about being just a loving person or was he talking about sharing his deepest love with someone else? To me, those five words became only three.
Each of us has a type of box inside us that is pure and unblemished. People either keep it locked, or they unlock it. And yet, every one holds in it the exact same thing, and that thing is Love. Sometimes when people open their own box, it’s to let love out and sometimes it’s to let love in. Grandpa had his own box—one in which we may never know how much of his love he poured out of it or how much love he kept in it. Was it a box like a jewelry box that plays a pretty gift of music when it is opened? Or was it a box that could never be filled up enough?
I don’t really know. But what I do know is that boxes are funny things. They find their way inside us, and, at the same time, we find a way of literally placing them where our loved ones can find them somewhere in the real world after we are gone—that is, if we look hard enough. So, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if, while we were going through Grandpa’s things, we will find a box that is filled with great love and memories. Perhaps it will have Grandma’s picture in it. Maybe his daughters Dianne and Angela. Maybe even Grandpa’s mother, father, sisters, and brothers. Maybe even us. But when you do find that box, then I believe you will find Grandpa—the real, the pure, the unblemished Grandpa. Then on that day, you’ll be able to honestly say, “No, Grandpa, you weren’t that way. This is the way you were, and I loved you for it.”
Yes, that box will say many things to many people, each one of us in our own special way. I know what it had already said to me on that fateful day. “This was for you, Timmy—my jewelry box to you.” And whenever I think about it, I feel Grandpa.
Joy in Heaven, Grandpa. Jesus knocked on your door. I love you.