Monday, July 16, 2012

Grumpy Gramps

My Grumpy Gramps was born in South Shields, England and lived through the horrors ofWW2. He was a great storyteller and his escapades as a Merchant Navy man were thrilling. During my college years I moved in with him and although living together would prove to be more difficult than I had foreseen he never gave up on my brooding form. One night he called to me.
“Carrie, Pet, come here and have a drink with me”.

I threw open the door of my room and stared down the length of the trailer to see him standing with a bottle of whiskey and a two litre of Ginger ale. Now we’re talking old man, I thought to myself.

He poured me a finger full of whiskey and topped it off with the pale pop and I remember being insulted. Surely I could handle more alcohol then that. I drank anyway.

“Good?” He inquired. I nodded my head.

“You spend too much time in that room, girl; you can come out occasionally and we could chat”.

“I know Grandpa” I said non-committedly.

“Did I ever tell you that I used to send money back to my mother; a big chunk of what the Navy paid me I sent back to her. She needed it. And that’s what we did back then. We took care of family.”

I mumbled something about how nice that was and greedily gulped the Whiskey. I was about to thank him for the drink and head back to my room when I glanced up from my glass. There were tears rolling down his cheeks and I was flabbergasted. I’d never seen him cry. I reached for his hand and he drew back, wiping the tears away.

“She saved every pound I sent her. She never spent a nickel of it and she gave it all back to me upon my return. I miss my mum. I’m an old man and I still miss my mum.”

I swallowed hard and felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure how to console him.

“She sounds wonderful Grandpa” I lamely replied.

“She was the greatest woman I ever knew. I hope your future kids will say the same about you”.

A long silence stretched out before us as we consumed another glass of Whiskey. I wondered what all of this was about. What was going on? My grandpa finally said, “I’m saving for you too, Carrie.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“The rent money you pay me. I’ve put it away for you, and when you’re ready, you can have it.”

I was stunned and before I knew it we were both crying. We drank together until the late hours of the night and I barfed the entire morning. Despite the alcohol poisoning and subsequent blackout his words have never left me. And while he knew one great woman, I can honestly say I knew an even greater man.

read to be read at


Melisa @ just begin from here said...

Oh Carrie! What a POWERFUL story! Thank you for sharing it with us. WOW, I was really moved by that. And the whiskey just makes the whole story better (sorry for the morning after though! yikes!)

carrie said...

Yeah, lol. The morning after was so brutal. His war stories that night were crazy too. I hadn't realize his hometown had been bombed frequently during the war! Of course it wasn't central to the story so I had to cut it!

Glad you liked it! :)

Steph said...

Carrie, this is wonderful. I was planning on stopping by and reading a couple of entries, and moving on, but felt I must comment on this. A moving tribute. How fortunate you are to have had him in your life. Well-written, beautifully told story.

carrie said...

@Stephanie- Wow thank you. That totally made my day! I'm so glad you liked it, and I'm glad it honored him. I love him so much and miss him dearly. I hope he's looking down on me and is happy with how I'm raising my kidlets!

Mamarific said...

What a sweet man! Very special story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Nikkiana said...

And I find myself crying too. What a wonderful story!

Unknown said...

these men. that lead and live with such an honest simplicity. they fill such a great role in our lives. loved this carrie, really loved it.

Robbie K said...

This post blew me away!! That last line....tears streaming down my cheek. My parents did the same for me when I decided i wasn't going to college out of state as planned. At the end of the year when I was actually ready to move they turned over the savings account where they'd deposited my monthly rent.

Jamie Miles said...

What an awesome story. We really can impact others by living selflessly. What a great testament to your grandfather's love. A gift to read.

carrie said...

@Mamarific- he really was. He was my fav person in the whole world. my grandma (his wife) a close second.

@Nikkiana- Thank you. I'm glad the story touched you :)

@Tara- thanks hun. Your praise means so much especially since I really admire your writing.

@Robbie-What a gift! Truly amazing what those who love us will do for us.

@Southmainmuse-Thanks so much. Very true. Living selflessly is hard but ultimately so worth it because of the way it impacts others!

Gina said...

I feel sorry for your morning recovery but what a special grandfather you have. This was a beautiful story of an even more beautiful man and the relationship he had with you. Very nicely written. I enjoyed every minute of it!

IASoupMama said...

Oh, what a wonderful story about a wonderful man! You are so very lucky to come from wonderful people... Lovely post!

Joe said...

Great story, Carrie. I love talking to WWII Vets. Too bad there are not many of them left.

christina said...

oh wow,i have chills. and tears. really really great story. what an awesome man.

Kathleen said...

I love this story so much, Carrie. What a dear, dear man! You did a great job with the dialogue, by the way. I could almost hear his accent. Loved when he called you "pet." (I had a British grandma and a Scottish grandpa.)

Werdyab Blog said...

Wow. My grandmother is my BFF, so I can totally relate to this post. Wonderfully written! And what a sweet man!

Kate F. (@katefineske) said...

Your story trapped me - I couldn't stop reading it even if I tried. What a wonderful story and an even better memory. My grandfather passed away 2 years ago. He had Alzheimer Disease. I miss him and I wish I would have had the opportunity to get to know him as a person better before his disease took away that opportunity.

Christie said...

Wow. He sounds like an amazing man. Great post. I love how you told the story.

carrie said...

@Gina-Glad you enjoyed it! :)

@IASoupMama- I really am lucky to have known him!

@Joe- I know! My Grandpa had some really awesome stories.

@Christina- Aww thanks Christina, I'm so happy you liked it!

@Kathleen-I'm so glad I wrote him well enough that the accent came out! Pet is the best nickname ever!!!

@Werdyab- I loved my grandparents so dang much!!

@Kate- Oh such a wretched disease. My great gran had it and my grandmother (her daughter) thought she might so she killed herself. She refused to live that way. :( I'm sorry you never got to have in depth convos with your grandpa!

@Christie- Thank you!! :)

Larks said...

OMG, what a sweet story! I teared up. Definitely a great man.

Carinn Jade @ welcometothemotherhood said...

I have had a very similar conversation with my grandmother. We have so much to learn from our parents parents - I hope my kids get to experience something like this too. Thanks for sharing.

Kinley Dane said...

So, so sweet

carrie said...

@Larks-Thank you for the wonderful compliment. And he truly was.

@Carinn-It's amazing what our grandparents can teach us if we only take the time to listen.

@Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

The ending had me in tears. Your grandfather sounds simply amazing. I think he did something astounding for you, both in saving you the money and in telling you about it.

Unknown said...

What a great story Carrie!
I enjoyed it all!
I know it may sound like a silly thing to comment on, but I forgot you were Canadian until I read "pop"! Haha.
One day we should get together for some poutine. We'll sit on the chesterfield and talk about hockey and mukluks. ;-)

Great story Carrie! Thanks for sharing it!

carrie said...

@Jesterqueen-He was amazing and his selfless act was so great.

@Dawn- Americans don't say "pop"?! What do they call it? And all that sounds awesome. Especially the Poutine. NUMMY!

tinkerdixiebell said...

Sounds like an amazing man. Great post.

Mary @ A Teachable Mom said...

You captured a lovely moment between you and your grandfather. My grandparents didn't speak English, yet their love and devotion to their family was evident in all they did. Thanks for sharing this story!

Jenna said...

What a wonderful moment you had with him there... I felt all your discomfort and the gratitude washed over me as I read that he saved the rent money. I wasn't expecting the rough morning after, but it serves to show how powerful the moment was, that you remember what was said and that you drank together. Thank you so much for sharing!

Michelle Longo said...

Such a sweet story and memory of your grandfather. And what a kind thing he did for you. He sounds like a wonderful many. Great post!

carrie said...

@Cathy-he was and thank you! :)

@Mary- Aren't we lucky to have such wonderful family!

@Jenna- I wasn't expecting the morning after either! Believe me! lol.

@he was a very wonderful man and I miss him dearly. Thank you! :)