Today I was walking home from taking Chooch to school when it occurred to me that I have officially lived more of my life without my Pappap than with him. It hit me like a load of bricks.
I found this shop on Etsy where this lady transfers photos onto slide film, tucks them into these glass bubbles and hangs them from a necklace. I knew immediately that I had to buy one and I started thinking of all the photos I’d want her to incorporate, and while it’s not some nice, studio portrait of my pappap, I knew exactly which one HAS to be immortalized in glass.
I wrote this in 2008, but I’m reposting it today because it’s one of my all-time favorite childhood memories and because, almost thirty years later, I am still that amused and giddy little girl over the stupidest things, like when the lady who collects the “last mail” from our department came from the opposite direction a few weeks, or finding out Henry was in THE SERVICE and had a door that led to the basement in one of his apartments. (Don’t ask.) So while it seems like nothing has been the same since my pappap died in 1996, I guess some things haven’t changed one bit.
When you’re a little kid, the smallest happenings can seem like these life-stopping newsworthy events and you sit there with your mouth agape and your eyes so wide and grip the edge of your seat, waiting with bated breath to see what will happen.
Everything is a big deal when you’re a kid.
I was probably around four or five when my Pappap came home from work with the mail. It was a summer afternoon, so I was on the back patio, probably with either my grandma or my aunt Sharon. My Pappap rifled through the mail and noticed that his youngest daughter Susie had a letter.
He called up to her on the sunroof, and she shouted for him to try and toss it up. I remember sitting on a lawn chair, their lawn chairs had these taut vinyl slats in varying shades of green and white but sometimes the skin on my thighs would graze the scalding metal of the frame in between the slats and I would get tiny welts. I’m sitting on this lawn chair, playing chicken with the fiery metal, and thinking, just knowing, that this wasn’t going to pan out the way Susie would have liked.
I watched as my Pappap tried to toss the letter against the wind, hoping to get enough momentum that it would skim the top of the ledge, but instead it fell back and skidded straight into the gutter.
My Pappap had to throw himself into full MacGyver throttle in order to rescue her precious letter, subscription notice, credit card bill. Who knows what it was. But even after he mounted a patio table and used the aid of scissors to guide the envelope from the dastardly clutches of the gutter, Susie still had to exert a modicum of energy to lean down and grab it.
And I’m watching this, from the green and white vinyl slats of the lawn chair, thinking that I’m a part of something big, something huge, a memory that we’ll all share together and laugh about at holidays. And everyone else went about their day, because things like this, they’re not enough to fill an adult with giddiness. They’re glitches in regularly scheduled programs, they’re “oopsies” moments that evoke a few chuckles but then get lost in the back of the mind while bills are being paid and the news is being watched, until the memory is eventually eradicated altogether. But not kids. Kids retain these things and latch on to them and call upon these tiny moments when they need something to smile about. Kids revel in it and wish everyone had seen it and kids inflate it into something so much bigger, larger than life. It becomes real life Saturday morning cartoons.
I don’t remember what the damn letter ended up being, or who it was that shared enough of my sentiments to treat this as the Kodak moment it truly was, and I don’t think we ever reminisced and hyucked about it over turkey legs and sweet potato pie, but I know that every time I see this picture, I laugh and remember being so small and watching something so big.