We all have them, those iconic pics in our lives. Often not the wedding or baby or family pics taken by professional photographers at venues or malls or gardens or fields.
They are the pics taken during moments and, when we see them, we are transported back to those places…
The sounds, the smells, the music…emotions on air.
For people who lived before cell phone cameras and Facebook and Instagram, these are the pics we stumble upon in our photo albums or – for those less inclined toward organization (ahem) scattered about, moved from one drawer or box or cabinet to another over time.
The funny thing is, these photos often become memory appetizers… the first course, the frozen-in-time teaser for a full-blown memory banquet.
Plates of ‘hey, remember that time whens’…
Platters of ‘oh my Gawd can you believes‘…
Bowls of ‘wow, I almost forgots’…
On a Wednesday in October of 1997, we didn’t send the kids to school. Instead, we all went to Disney World.
Mac, Sam, JoHn, Grampa, Granny and me.
Grampa almost didn’t go, claiming his bum knee would ruin it for us.
There is no way the Old Yankee Man was going to be pushed around in a wheel chair, that was a given.
But Mac overheard us in the kitchen, JoHn and I, talking about how – if Grampa would acquiesce to a chair when his knee acted up – we would get to go to the front of each line.
Now, we were not talking about how to buck the system and fraudulently plot our way past lines, mind you. We were talking about how to help Grampa feel better about coming, trying to convince him that he was actually helping us out (a tried and true tactic).
Mac didn’t wait to discuss the pros and cons of this approach.
Because Mac was five.
Mac heard something about Grampa and a wheelchair getting us to the front of the lines at Disney World and she was out of the kitchen like a shot, JoHn and I close on her heels (as soon as we realized what was happening).
Mac burst into the apartment and ran to the table where Grampa read his newspaper on and off all day long.
She breathlessly explained he had to come to Disney World and that his wheelchair let them skip lines!
With us lingering at the apartment door, she begged and pleaded as only a five year old granddaughter could.
When Grampa looked up at us, all we could do was nod that, yes, she was indeed telling the truth.
And I’ll ride with you and I can push you with Sam and you can come on all the rides! And you will love the train roller coaster and Splash Mountain and there are TURKEY LEGS! Grampa you will LOVE them and….
And then he leaned forward and told her that it all sounded like a ‘good deal’ to him, and that he would go to Disney World.
And that was that.
Earlier today, I noticed that Mac changed her Facebook profile pic to the photo above… exactly one year to the day that the Old Yankee Man left us (probably telling God himself how to run his Goddamn operation).
And that picture, for me, was the memory appetizer for a multi course meal.
I savored it all.
Mac and Sam pushing Grampa in his chair through EPCOT, toward the best spot for the fireworks.
Granny and Grampa laughing as Sam went on ‘the Goofy coaster’ (Sam’s words) over and over and over…. and over again.
Grampa convincing ‘Mother’ (Granny) that the train roller coaster (Big Thunder Mountain) was a ‘tame’ ride, and hugging her closely as she screamed into his shoulder the entire ride.
Grampa telling Mac and Sam to each pick out ‘anything they wanted’ as a prize (he never said ‘present’, always ‘prize’) from a Main Street shop.
Mac came out with a stuffed Tigger nearly the size of her.
Well, according to an exasperated Grampa….
“All the kid wanted was a goddamn lollipop!”
I’m so glad I was there to take those pics.
But I’m even more grateful for the memories they sparked today when Mac posted hers, and then I went looking for more from that October long ago.
My kids grew up with their Grampa.
Close enough that they could do puzzles, and interrupt his newspaper reading, eat ‘second suppers’, be blamed for taking everything from his prize hammer to his goddamn cane…
And close enough to convince an old man with a bum knee to come to Disney World with them.
Grief is a funny thing, time-bending its superpower.
I can’t believe it’s been a year.
A whole entire year…
That feels like yesterday.
Still miss you old man.
Thanks for the memories.
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