When my mom went back to teaching, my brother and I would stay at my grandparents’ house after school. Grandma would have a snack and the comics page of the paper ready for me. We would play in the carport or ride bikes and then do homework. I read the books on the shelves and every page of each month’s Reader’s Digest. And I waited for Grandpa to get home so we could play cards.
Grandpa and I played gin rummy and double solitaire, and though I had learned alternate rules, he was having none of it. We would play by his rules, and that was that. As he dealt cards over the kitchen table, we became buddies. I told him about school and he took me for walks. We had a long-standing joke about monkeys to the point that, on my wedding day, he said, “You don’t look like a monkey today.” We greeted each other by saying, “Are you causing trouble?” His answer was always yes, because he takes after me.
My other grandfather died before I was born, so Grandpa is the only grandfather I’ve ever had. I think I needed him more, somehow, and I got more time with him after his retirement than many of my cousins, since we lived only 10 minutes away.
Today would have been my grandpa’s 86th birthday. He passed away on Monday after 12 years of declining health. Part of me will always be his little monkey.