Saturday, January 29, 2005

Long, long ago (about 1990) in a far away place (Palos Heights, IL), I had a conversation with my grandfather.

My parents had skipped town for a week and the VW kids stayed with grandparents. Brother Andy had a Thursday night caddet club meeting that didn't get out until 9:00 -I went with Grandpa to pick up Andy, while my grandmother stayed home to put Kris, Jon, and Phil to bed.

We were in the car, talking about the things that every 8th grader talks about - DRIVING, getting a license, and wanting to have a car. I told him that if I were lucky enough to get a car, I'd want a black pickup truck with a pink pin stripe. (Granpa was very surprised to discover that a girl wanted a pick up!) I can so vividly recall the conversation that it makes me cry to think about it.

The conversation turned to other things. He asked me what I was going to do after high school. I told him I might go to college but who knows, I might not even finish high school.

Part of me was feeling very stupid at that time (Due to an awful algebra teacher, perfectionistic tendencies, normal junior high garbage, and an unrecognized learning disability). I also knew that my grandfather didn't finish high school and didn't want to act all scholarly in front of him.

There was a moment of comfortable silence, when he suddenly said, "I'll buy you a pick up truck if you graduate" I think, at that moment, he really really, seriously, honestly meant it. I think he wanted to do whatever he could to encourage and push me beyond the middle school slump.

My "Promised Pick up truck (with a pink stripe) became a family joke. I reminded him constantly that he was going to get me a pick up (with a pin stripe) and everyone harassed him about when he was going to follow through on his promise. Whenever he and I were out together, he'd point out trucks and ask if that was the kind I wanted.
(No, he never got me a truck, nor did I expect one - and that is not the point of the story or the long-standing family joke).

This morning, my 3 year old nephew asked me to buy him a pick up truck. Everyone laughed - except I was holding back tears through the laughter. I told the boy he had to graduate before he could get a pick up; that is the rule. (He is now roaming around the house asking people to help him graduate so he can get a pick up!)

I miss my grandfather.
And I love my newphew for unknowingly continuing his legacy.