Today is the 21st anniversary of my grandpa’s death. Everyone in the family had to have some sort of collection: grandma’s clowns, mom’s mice. Grandpa’s collection was model trains. As a child I watched trains go by while I was at recess, and would count the cars as they flew past, disappointed when the bell would ring before all the cars could be counted. We still have some of grandpa’s trains on a shelf that hangs above our garage.
I absolutely adored my grandpa, so it pains me that the few clear memories I have of him are of negative events. They were so out of the ordinary that they were seared into my mind. One positive memory that I do still have is of the two of us playing school – me as the teacher and him as the student. I would grade his homework and he would intentionally get some questions wrong so that I actually had to know the answers in order to check his. The school was in the entryway to our house, the one that he designed and we built as a family. His huge desk was my teacher’s desk, and we had an orange plaid armchair that he sat in to do his homework.
When I was young, my mother and grandmother both worked nights, so it was grandpa who woke me up for school with a special song, draped my clothes over an electric heater to get them warm, and fixed me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every morning for breakfast. I have never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich since he died. I don’t eat jelly at all, and rarely eat peanut butter.
Grandpa’s death was extremely hard on me. I was closer to him than anyone else in the world, and I felt completely lost and alone after he died. Last night as I was pondering what to post today I found this story called The Train on Facebook. It was too perfect to not share.