209 Vernon Street, my favorite place to visit as a little girl. My dad’s parents lived just a few streets away, and if in need of a friend, I would walk on over to their charming yellow cape with the black shutters. Gramps was my best friend whenever I needed him.
The kitchen was my favorite place to hang out with Nana and Gramps. After climbing the three cement steps and shuffling through the breezeway I’d be atop the red and white checkered floor. Nana’s kitchen radio would be set to the local news on WBZ.
“Hi darlin’,” Gramps would say as he smothered me with hugs and kisses. Then it would be Nana’s turn to do the same. “What can I get you? A goodie? Some tonic?,” she would ask. She never took no for an answer. I was bound to eat something sweet. The warmth of Nana and Gramps’ kitchen is the most comforting memory I keep to this day.
Gramps would sit quietly in the red vinyl covered chair at the head of the table while I’d sit in the chair next to him. Nana would be floating across the checkered floor in her favorite pair of light blue sling back slippers sorting out our favorite snack.
There was nothing better than Nabisco’s Vienna Finger cookies. Two crispy biscuits with sweet vanilla icing sandwiched between. Of course, we would also have milk in my favorite metallic cups. I loved the way those cups could shine and how cold they felt in my hand. I always asked for my favorite cups.
Gramps would most likely tell me some of his jokes, both old and new. We’d sit and chat and nibble on cookie after cookie. “We bought these especially for you, love,” Gramps would say. He really knew how to make me feel special, no matter what we were doing. My eyes would be fixed on his gold and onyx ring while the band of his cheap silver watch softly clicked, due to his slight shakes. He’d be wearing his favorite blue polyester sweat suit with white stripes, complete with elastic bands around his ankles to keep his socks up – that was one of Gramps’ trademarks.
We would then move into the dining room to play my favorite card game, Go Fish. Gramps would grab the deck of cards from the desk and give it a quick shuffle. We would sit across from each other at the lace covered table cluttered with Nana’s bills on one end. Seven cards each, “Do you have any sevens?,” I would ask. Gramps would begin handing over his cards. In the end, I always seemed to win.
After playing round after round of Go Fish, Gramps would then retire on to his favorite mustard colored chair in the corner of the living room. He always loved a good nap. He would eventually start snoring (pretty loudly) and I would snicker to myself. Then as I watched him sleep with his mouth wide open, I would go over and climb up on his lap. I loved snuggling with him and hearing him breathe; it was so comfortable there. I would admire every little wrinkle on his warm, brown hands and sniff up his scent. It wasn’t aftershave or cologne I smelled; it was just Gramps.
What a guy. He played with me whenever I wanted him to, whether it was Bingo, Go Fish, or coloring in the basement. He loved kids and always let us know how special we all were. He loved taking walks to the playground at Father Mac’s and pushing me on the swings. I could even get him on the other end of the seesaw! He was so loveable, happy and fun. Everyone wanted their grandfather to be just like Gramps. I know all of my friends were jealous of him and wanted him for their own. But he was mine. Mine, all mine.
Gramps left this world fifteen years ago, but he hasn’t left me. I think of him every day and these thoughts make me smile. He was so good at being Gramps. Nana gave me those colorful metallic cups when he died. I treasure those cups dearly and cannot get over how much they have seemed to shrink over the years. Shine on, Gramps.