Dead Caterpillar

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A heartwarming memory of my beloved bed-ridden grandfather

Saturday, Oct 23rd, 2010

Suffering from colon cancer, my grandfather was confined to a couch during the last years of his life. He had little left to do but to make fun of surrounding people and things—but mostly people.

On one occasion I had just gotten home from school and was halfway through taking my shoes off. Grandpa was in his usual position, stretched out on the living room couch. He said something to me that was just plain mean. I don’t remember what it was. I just know that it was a thoroughly mean thing to have said. I know that because I remember exactly how I reacted.

I picked up one of my shoes, wound up to throw and screamed: “I HATE YOU GRANDPA!”

Luckily my mother was there to stop me otherwise I surely would have pelted my 65-year-old dying grandfather in the face with an un-strung Nike.

After that, grandpa laughed and continued to expand upon the very mean thing he had just said …Grandpa was a trouble maker, an elderly delinquent. Everyone knew it.

Now on to the heartwarming memory

My Dad made the mistake of letting Grandpa babysit me and my brother one night. Before leaving, my Dad explicitly told us to not watch anything that grandpa might be watching on the TV. He also told me and my brother to ignore anything grandpa might say and to basically avoid him altogether by staying in a backroom and watching a kid’s movie.

If I did not have the feeble mind of a seven-year-old, I might have listened to my Dad’s advice. But at that age I might have been persuaded to do anything.

I remember it vividly: me and my brother were in a backroom watching superman and grandpa called our names from the living room. My brother was smart enough to stay put. I played the role of a stupid and naive child.

That was the night I was introduced, by my beloved bed-ridden grandfather, to the hack and slash horror movie genre. I don’t remember the plot exactly but I remember it involved a chainsaw and a lot of conflict … and blood, and gore, and hacking, and dismemberments, and screaming, and many subsequent nightmares.

When my dad got back, my Grandpa — out of deep concern for my personal development as a child, no doubt – immediately told my Dad that I had watched the movie against his sincerest wishes.

My Dad was not happy. I don’t remember exactly what happened after. I remember a lot of conflict involving a serious discussion, then pleading, then begging, then the final, subsequent application of a thick wooden paddle to my rear.

The heartwarming memory (seriously this time)

Grandpa did have one redeeming quality.

It was his mustache. Grandpa had a mustache I coveted. Even years after his death, I would often take the time to admire his mustache in old family photos. That was his legacy, that is what I will remember him for, his mustache.

It was the kind of mustache that just said, “You know what? I am growing hair right here, above my upper lip, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

I asked grandpa about his mustache once. During that conversation he asked if I’d ever grow one. I told him I would. And I plan to make good on that promise, even if I end up looking like a total retard.

The way I see it, you may end up cleaning toilets, delivering mail or pumping gas for a living, so long as you have a mustache, you have at least one strand of dignity left.

That’s only true for the male gender of course.

Just another misleading sub-head which you will probably ignore

Well. Those are some memories I have. It’s not exactly the story of a boy who wins a golden ticket to a magical chocolate factory with his beloved bed-ridden grandfather.

But, yeah. Close enough.

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