As a young teenager, my playmate was my grandfather, my mother’s stepfather, who came to live with us when my grandmother died. He lived in the basement of our chalet on the pond, a house that my dad and his friend Reme built so that we could all finally live together. The “we” had not included my grandfather at the time of the building but one of those times when Grammy called drunk and said she was dying, it was true. She did. And so my parents made a bedroom and a living room and a bathroom downstairs that belonged to Grampa
He worked at my high school as a janitor and drank the rest of the time.
At first, when we found out he was coming to live with us, I was happy. I loved him as long as I remembered. He’d treated me kindly, bought me candy, took me to the beach and let me ride with him in his tractor trailer truck. I felt special with him and, with the exception of accepting money from Tommy Lombard for the baseball of mine he whacked out of the yard and lost (we don’t need other people’s money, his face red and disapproving) I’d never made him angry. He and my grandmother were kind to me. And they were fun as in we did not have a bedtime with them and we could basically eat whatever we wanted and we could swim even if we had just eaten. They fought a lot with each other but it did not seem to make a difference in how they were with me.
After my grandmother died, he stopped driving a truck. I think something may have happened involving him and drinking and his rig but I can’t be sure. I just know that he showed up at our house in Vermont without it and started the cleaning job shortly after. And we started going to the drive in.
All of this is a lead up to tell you that he became a pussy grabber and I became a drunk. I also became ashamed of myself and my pussy. And my grandfather.
He eventually found another woman and moved away to live with her. Some years later he developed a palsy that lived primarily in the left side of his face. I drove to New Hampshire to visit him but while I tried to carry on a conversation it was nearly impossible for me to feel him actually being there. Dirty drool leaked from the left corner of his mouth, leaving a shiny path along the crack down his chin. He asked me to sit by him and as much as I didn’t want to, I did it. He reached his mottled hand to my knee and, while I do not doubt he simply meant to rest it there, I seized up on the inside and do not remember the rest of the visit. I did not go back to see him again before he died and when I heard he was gone, I felt nothing.
And that’s the thing about pussy grabbers. They’re only powerful in that they make us feel bad about ourselves and nothing for them. I had loved him for his kindness and generosity and his happy red face and his big truck. In the end he meant nothing to me and I had a lot of work to do to find what I meant to myself.