Maybe it’s because his birthday just whooshed past, or maybe with the winter holidays whooshing toward us it’s inevitable to think about missing relatives. My grandfather, (the internally scarred weather man, not the internally scarred mail man), has been on my mind.
He would have been about my age when I first really got to know him, although I don’t think anyone really got to know him very well. He liked me because I wasn’t critical of his childishness; as a fellow child, I was very accepting of him.
I’m fairly certain I leveled a sentence at him a time or two much like my own teenager does right now, “You are allegedly the adult in this situation, ya know.” But for the most part, I went along with his enthusiasms even when it meant courting frostbite or being suddenly introduced to an entire soccer team as an odd prank.
He was a flawed guy, but relentlessly cheerful in a way that I now recognize as my way. He never forgot a slight, and teased me for decades about an incident in which I slept through his greatest geology lecture. I may have been a baby, but the edge of accusation in the anecdote leads me to think I was probably about seven years old when I slept in his class. I was a very tired seven-year-old and they hadn’t figured out that I needed glasses. I’ll forgive me for him.
Possibly my favorite thing about my grandfather was the way his house was set up like a museum. In a life where I was shuffled about and moved every few years, going to a place where the fur pillows and teak tables were predictably placed, and the same gangling plants were dusted and healthy, was incredibly reassuring.
I didn’t and don’t remember the stories about any of his artifacts. He had lots of travel photos of glaciers and rocks and very few photos of people. There was a big glass bowl that had something to do with a war plane or a weather plane. I just can’t know. When all the artifacts disappeared, it didn’t matter to me. Museums get bombed, after all. Things burn down.
My other grandparents kept house in much the same way, but with more modest style. They put things where they liked them and that’s where they stayed. There was no remodeling or rearranging going on. If a bookcase was good enough to hold some books it would live there forever.
Now I see the inertia in that, but I truly loved the inertia of old people. Their sameness made me feel safe.
It’s strange that I dislike my own inertia so much now that I’m becoming on old person. Maybe I should adopt some more pets and take more naps instead of relentlessly pushing myself uphill.
My grandfather was offended when I gave him my greatest compliment. “Your house is just like a museum,” I said. He didn’t understand and added it to his catalog of slights. He pouted about it for the rest of his life.
Maybe changing is the better choice.