Every day we walk past a hallway table. On this table sets a type writer. The type writer is an old, black LC Smith brand that used to belong to my grandpa, my dad’s dad. He kept it downstairs in his office-really just a the basement where it sat on a desk piled with papers. I’m sure my grandpa did useful work on the type writer. Maybe he wrote some letters to friends and far away family. Maybe he recounted old war stories and typed them out. Maybe the old type writer just sat there gathering dust as so many things do. I’m not really sure because as a kid growing up and going over to my grandparent’s house was a lot of fun and celebrations. Usually birthday parties complete with sheet cakes and neapolitan ice cream or holidays with fresh baked rolls and presents. So, there wasn’t a lot to think about that old type writer sitting on the top of grandpa’s desk in his downstairs basement office.
Today I passed that old type writer and thought about my grandpa. I wish I had spent more time talking to him, maybe asking him about his life, or asking him about what he used that old type writer for. I was young when he died-14 years old- but old enough to know he had seen a lot of things in his life. He had seen the first car pull onto his street, he had fought in World War II and he had lived through five children and even more grandchildren. He would have loved to meet all of his great grandchildren.
My grandpa didn’t say a whole lot, he was what most would have called “old school”, a bit stern and to the point when necessary. He was short in stature but still had a presence. He wore suits and hats to the grocery store. He loved to golf and would play an old course near his home where you could shoot a round of golf and get a hot dog for less than you could buy the hot dog these days. He was a diabetic and sometimes didn’t take the best care of himself. He had a small place on his forehead that I always thought was from the war but as I got older, I found out it was a scar from working in the coal mines later in his life.
Even though he didn’t say a lot, I knew grandpa loved me when he would sneak a candy mint from the dish on the table beside the couch and put it in my pocket. I knew he loved me when he would show me the best way to dunk graham crackers (or ‘Nilla Wafers) in milk without them falling apart. I knew he loved me when he asked about how I was doing and he would simply just listen. I knew he loved me when he would walk around outside and show me the things he had in the garage or a new tool he had found that he hoped to salvage.
That type writer is a daily reminder to me that everyone has a story. Every single person. Every single story is important and has meaning. That type writer is a daily reminder that I choose my story but often my story is what happens to me along the way, while I’m trying to figure it all out. Some parts of our story will be beautiful. Some parts will be ugly and messy. Some parts are incredibly normal and plain. Some parts are scary and adventurous. All parts are worthy of our remembrance and our words.
I wish I could sit down with my grandpa one more time. Maybe I would show him that his story mattered, it still matters and it’s a part of so many others’ stories. Thanks for being a part of my story, grandpa. Thanks for this reminder.