Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Grandpa's Big Adventure (Grandma and The Prince - Part 31)
Grandma El and Grandpa Larry at my wedding, fifteen years after they broke up
Did I ever tell you about the time my grandfather ran away from home? He was 84 when he and his fifth wife Bess separated. What had worked for almost thirty years suddenly stopped working and he packed up his suitcase, claimed the La-Z Boy, then called my husband for a getaway car out of Dodge.
It was probably the biggest scandal they'd seen at Leisure Village at the time. My husband said the street was lined with retirees come out to watch Larry make his break for it. Let's face it, it isn't every day you see a multi-married octogenarian slap a Mets cap on his head, climb into the cab of a U-Haul, and wave goodbye.
Now I can't explain why after thirty years of marriage they decided to split up but as much as I loved my step-grandmother, I was very excited over the prospect of my grandfather moving back to our side of the Hudson. And I can admit this now that all of the principals in Grandpa's Big Adventure are gone: I was hoping he and Grandma El would get back together.
That sounds terrible, doesn't it? You're not supposed to be a matchmaker for your mismatched grandparents but the thought that their romance interruptus might get a second chance was downright irresistible to me.
Grandpa rented a two room apartment about a block and a half away from my parents' apartment in Queens, within walking distance of everything he could possibly need. But there was one problem: Grandpa was almost completely blind by that time. Not that something as trivial as blindness could stop him.
Now Grandma El lived about six blocks from his new digs. Six short blocks filled with possibilities. But as it turned out they might as well have been on separate continents. Grandpa might have fled the retirement village and Grandma Bess, but he was still a married man and his demeanor was impeccable. No flirting. No dating. No shenanigans. Not even if the woman in question was family as well as an old flame.
I was crushed. Not that I am a believer in infidelity but I was a newly-minted romance writer at the time (I sold my first book about six months after Grandpa moved to Queens) and hot on the trail of a happy ending.
Instead I found myself in the middle of a romantic triangle where the combined age of the participants was 253 years! We might grow older but the same emotions still burn inside our hearts and the almost daily phone calls from my grandmothers proved that to me for all time. Grandma Bess, his wife, wanted to know what "That Woman" was up to. ("She's a witch, Barbara, a sorceress, and she wants Larry. She always has!") and Grandma El, his former fiancee, countered with a wicked laugh and a few comments of her own. ("That old stick-in-the-mud is sapping the life out of Larry. I'm much more fun!")
And what was my grandfather thinking? I haven't a clue because he wasn't talking.
The months passed. The phone calls increased. The 1982 holidays came and went and there we were, zipping through 1983 at rocket speed.
Grandma El's stuffing recipe
Suddenly it was Thanksgiving and we were all gathered at my parents' apartment to celebrate: Roy and I, my parents, my aunt Mona, my uncle Budd, my aunt Dede, Grandma El, and the man of the hour Grandpa Larry.
"I have an announcement," he said somewhere between the candied yams and the mince pie.
I looked over at Grandma El. Was that a merry twinkle I saw in her eyes or just the candlelight?
I held my breath as Grandpa Larry cleared his throat.
"Bess and I have decided to give it another try."
The prodigal husband was going home. He signed over his bank account to Bess, his half of the house, and the rest of his heart, but he was going back home where he knew he belonged.
Was I disappointed? I have to admit the dream of Grandma El and Grandpa Larry getting back together again after so many years was a tough one to let go but there was no denying Grandpa Larry's and Grandma Bess's pure joy in being together again.
He was there for her a few years later when she was diagnosed with cancer and there for her when she left this world eight years later.
And a certain romance writer got her happily-ever-after ending, even if it didn't look quite the way she had expected it to.
Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the U.S.!
P.S. I'm Barbara Bretton and you can find me here and here and here. SPELLS & STITCHES (Book #4 in my Sugar Maple Chronicles) will be in bookstores on December 6th. Make sure you visit my website in December and enter my Win A Nook Color contest. Good luck!
P.P.S. If you'd like to sample Sugar Maple (knitting! magick! love!) you can read chapter one of SPELLS & STITCHES here or pick up an e-copy of CHARMED: A SUGAR MAPLE SHORT STORY at Smashwords (free!) or Amazon Kindle ($0.99)