“Grandpa, what do you mean you weren’t born with that nose?”
“It takes special talent to get a schnoz this pretty. Or maybe just three or four breaks.”
When my grandma died last fall, I started hanging out with Grandpa and keeping him company. It was then I realized I hardly knew him. See, I’d always talked to my grandma. We’d talk each other’s ears off. My grandpa would sit with us, smile and soak in the company, but not enter into conversation. In WWII, the gun blasts on his ship left him nearly deaf.
So now here we were, just the two of us on the couch. What would we talk about? Well, for a little while, nothing. But once we got a system of communication going, I got some awesome stuff out of him. I just had to sit by his good ear, enunciate, and let him read my lips.
“The first nose break was in a park. I was jumping out of a tree and knocked it with my knee. I shoved it back in myself.”
“What? Why’d you do that?” But he was on a roll.
“The next nose break was at the rollerskating rink. I was going too fast, and I stopped another guy’s head with my nose. The last break I got when I saw some kids on a trampoline. It looked fun, but we didn’t have one. So I jumped on a mattress in my basement. Knee to the ol’ schnoz again, but I had to go to the hospital. They cleaned it up real good there.”
“So Grandpa, how do you have a marriage that lasts 67 years?”
“Be sure your husband knows you care about him. Every day, make sure he knows for sure.”
“How come Grandma always won the arguments between you two?”
“She was the boss. And was so much prettier than me.”
When my Grandma died, Grandpa started confiding in me what it felt like to miss her. To lose a spouse. At first, I avoided the topic for his sake. But then I realized how much he liked talking about her, even if he was wiping at his eyes as he spoke.
“So Grandpa, what did you like about Grandma?”
“She wasn’t so ready to jump all over you. She was, you know, more independent. So we kept going. She was attractive, and she was a real good Christian. I knew she was a real Christian because I took some of the guys from the ship and visited her at church, at Moody. I never told her that. I saw the way she looked in church, and I just knew she was a born-again Christian.”
“So you liked her pretty quickly?”
“I liked her the first day I met her. And I liked her the day she went to heaven.”