I do not have the best memory. Oh, I remember the important things, for the most part, but I don’t have a lot of childhood memories. My sister, on the other hand, is always telling me things that I’ve either forgotten or she made up. I don’t know how her memory can be that damn good.
I do remember some things, though.
My Granddaddy died when I was young, maybe six years old. I don’t remember much about him, but I remember he loved two things more than anything else in this world- he loved Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and he loved his two granddaughters.
When my parents could finally afford to buy a house and we moved out of Grandma and Granddaddy’s house, we would spend every other weekend with Granddaddy. I harbor no illusions that we were there to visit Grandma. She was a cold woman and not prone to spontaneous displays of affection. She’d been in an accident when she was young and it had given her epilepsy, then she’d lost her oldest son to melanoma at the age of 17. They said she’d never been the same after that. No, it was Granddaddy who wanted us there as often as we could visit.
One day he asked my Mom if she could bring us over to visit. I seem to remember that it wasn’t our weekend to visit, but he wanted us anyway. So Mom packed our cute little patterned suitcases and we headed to Tarpon Springs.
When we got to the end of the street we had to pull over to let an ambulance go by. It wasn’t until we pulled into the driveway that we realized the ambulance was coming for Granddaddy. He’d had a massive heart attack sitting in his chair on the porch, waiting for us to get there. They couldn’t save him.
I used to question why Granddaddy had to die, why the one that loved us so much had to die and the one who tolerated us got to live, but I guess those aren’t questions you’re likely to get an answer to.
I don’t remember much about my Granddaddy but I know this- when Charlie Rich’s song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” comes on the radio, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Granddaddy sang that song to me. Don’t ask me how I know, I just do.
And it takes me back. Sometimes it makes me cry, but most days it makes me smile.