My father’s family was warm, loving, accepting and ruled by a dynamic woman half the size of any of the men.
My grandfather was 6’2‘’, but it wasn’t his height that made him appear so disproportionately large. It was the bulk of him that seemed to over fill any space that he entered. His hands were large, his feet were large, his shoulders looked as if they went on forever, but the biggest thing that made him appear huge was his personality. When he smiled the sun shone around his head, when he was worried or unhappy the God’s themselves would scurry to right the wrong. He grew up on a farm in Colorado right next door to ....
My grandmother was 5’1’’. She was small, but when standing next to my grandfather she looked almost tiny. She was a lady in the way that women were expected to be in the era in which she was raised, but she had an earthy quality too. She worked hard, she was a great cook, she loved her family with unbridled pride, and she was a dynamo. If she made a serious statement they all stopped, listened, and acted.
My grandfather provided the wherewithal; my grandmother provided the dynamics.
They were married over 50 years.
There are many stories I will eventually share with you about my grandfather and grandmother and the loving, sometimes quirky family that they raised, but this story is about the last years of my grandfather’s life.
My grandmother died in her late seventies. My grandfather was grief stricken, but grandma had been ill for several years so it came as no surprise when she left him.
What did come as a surprise, to the rest of the family, was my grandfather’s decision to pack his bags and take a motor trip. The family begged him to take a plane, a train, or even a bus, but Bert was a stubborn man. So at 80 years of age he painstakingly planned a trip that would take him to Colorado, to visit some extended family, and then on to Southern California, to visit his oldest son, my father.
The family consensus, after much hand wringing, was that if he died in his car at least he was doing it his way. And then everyone sat and held their breaths.
What he neglected to tell anyone in the family was that he was on an expedition. He was looking for women! He told me this in a private conversation that we had when he took me out to dinner one evening. I was newly divorced and he had decided that the two of us were basically on the same mission ... find someone to love for a bit.
“Your grandmother and I had a rolling good sex life. She was a wonderful partner, but the last few years she was just too ill to be interested. I really miss that connection with a woman. So I’m looking around to see what’s available.”
And while I tried to keep from choking on my coffee he continued by asking me to keep his little secret. He was my beloved grandfather so I gave him my word that I wouldn’t squeal on him, but I thought it was going to be the hardest secret I had ever tried to keep.
Eventually, of course, he gave up the secret himself. He would disappear for hours with no explanation as to where he had gone, or what he had done. Then the hours extended to a day here and a day there until he finally had to tell my father what it was he was doing.
He had met a waitress. She was 35,divorced, had three children, and wasn‘t particularly interested in marriage. She was a fine looking woman and the two of them were having great fun together. There was just one thing that was bothering him. He was worried that she would get pregnant. She already had three children and he was in his eighties. He thought it was time for him to go back to Washington.
And he did! He went straight home and convinced his doctor that he needed a vasectomy. And he got one!
My father and his sister were flabbergasted. Surely the doctor didn’t do a vasectomy on an 80-year-old man just to pacify him ... did he? It was the question of the month among family members. I remember laughing that my grandfather was having more fun then his 30-year-old granddaughter.
Bert then took his new vasectomy and started trolling the local broads. He eventually found the woman he wanted. They met at a dance and it was love at first laugh. There was only one problem. She was married. So he took her home with him and the two of them played house while she started divorce proceedings.
They got married the minute it was legal to do so. And they stayed happily married until the day that he had a heart attack and left us.
One evening I got a phone call from Bertha, the woman that my grandfather had married. She said that my grandfather had told her a lot about me and she hoped that she would get the opportunity to meet me someday. So my next vacation I went to Washington to meet the woman that had made my grandfather’s last years so happy.
She was the total opposite of my grandmother. She was tall, she was overweight, she was loud, and she was brassy. But she had a great sense of humor and I knew within minutes why he had married her ............
“Oh just ignore that old bull snorting behind the fence he just wants to f*&k. He’s as horny as your grandfather was!”
And man could she cook!