Out of My Comfort Zone

It will soon be father’s day.  I choose to write about my grandfather.UkraineFlag

I didn’t really “know” my grandfather all that well—though he watched me grow up.  He would always look on when I bounced a tennis ball off the paint-flecked red wooden spire backyard fence and the smell of gasoline from inside his detached turn-of-the-twentieth-century North Jersey suburban one-car garage made me feel light-headed.

I felt unconditional love back then, even if no other family members could get along.

I was too young for grown up trivialities to matter.  The truth was he never failed to gaze over at me in the yard and smile, but he was forever lost in a daydream. To my benighted dismay he never failed to refuse this little boy’s constant annoying entreaties to take part in any imaginary games.  As my grandpa stood by slack-jawed, an island onto himself, his eyes shone a liquid glaze through his tired vigilance.  Man, it was like he could stare right through you yet be thinking of something else far off in the galaxy of his pondering, intense eyes like high beams in darkness.  Meanwhile, I’d pretend to be Greg Nettles at 3rd base diving upon the concrete to prove I was tough as nails, saving the final game of the fictitious World Series that played like a projector looping in my head.  I was only seven years old and liked the Yankees back then.  He looked at me proud, standing stolid, nodding quietly, half-grinning, sort of smiling.  And I’ll never forget his confident demeanor, like he could handle almost anything in the world.  Such was his way, but everyone knew he was hurt inside.  While it was a family sin to show weakness, I still knew he considered me a tough little kid.

Yeah, I didn’t cry when I scrapped my knees.  That was good and everyone said so, but it only really mattered to me what my grandfather thought.

“Pop” was the kind of man who could battle hell: abduction, slave labor, concentration camps, making a new life in America, raising children and grandchildren.  I was his first grandson and knew he was proud of that bond, albeit his quiet vigilance never allowed outward expressions of love.  Nonetheless, anytime I feel “out of my comfort zone,” I think of him and find inspiration almost immediately. My second novel is dedicated to my grandfather.

Happy Father’s Day!

One Response to “Out of My Comfort Zone”

  1. Thank you for the kind words. I’ve been writing so many poems lately that it feels good to change it up a bit. Appreciate your comment.

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