One of my earliest memories is at my grandparents’ house in Higganum, Connecticut. Having military parents, my brother and I spent some transition periods there so my parents could focus on getting housing and moved in, all the things you don’t want to have to do with small children around. I don’t know which period this is, though I suspect it was between Loring AFB in Maine and Warner Robins AFB in Georgia. I say this because my next memory is at Warner Robins and I have several memories there.
I never got the opportunity to chat with my grandfather the way I have with my grandmother. He died when I was eleven and one of my strongest and favorite memories of him was him teaching my brother and I how to play poker with dried beans as currency. I think he may have remembered it this way:
He was very, very sick at this point, pretty well confined to his recliner because of angina. All he wanted to do was enjoy what ended up being the last time he’d see either one of his oldest grandchildren, the only ones who would have any memory of him. So he asked my grandmother for a jar of beans, my brother and I (or maybe my grandmother) moved a table so that we could sit around it, and a deck of cards. He went about very patiently teaching a 10 year old me and an 8 year old Jason (my brother) how to play poker. In those moments, he laughed as big as he could muster without pain, a laugh I’m told I inherited from him. He successfully hid from two unknowning children how awful he felt and my grandmother went about her business, probably making dinner, giving my brother and I one of the greatest gifts she could: a final, happy and fun memory with our dying grandfather.
He has been gone 23 years. I know my grandfather mostly through my grandmother’s stories about him. I have heard them all more times than I can count but I love hearing them as often as she wants to tell them. I always will.