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4 November 2017

Grandfathers

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Today’s prompt comes from The Write Practice. It is short and sweet:

Write a scene or story involving a grandfather.

Grandpa Billy passed not two weeks ago and already they put him in the dirt, read his will, and transferred his belongings. There was no long protracted estate battles, no fighting with my brothers and parents and cousins and other relations. No, I just plain got everything, and everyone was happy for me to have it. Good riddance, as far as they were concerned. And Grandpa Billy was no pauper, either, he had a modest inheritance to pass down. But everyone else was written out of the will, and it was explicit that I got everything, and so that’s how it happened.

Grandpa Billy’s house was on a four acre plot of land smack in the middle of other giant plots of land that no one wanted. There was a three mile long, poorly maintained access road leading to his house. His house was the only one on the road. Not even the mailman went down there. Grandpa’s mailbox was up by the main road. Since it was Grandpa Billy’s road, and his was the only house on it, he got to name it. The access road was called, “Flea Bitten Sack of Good for Nothing Rd.” It was written on an extra large sign. Grandpa used to say when someone sent him a letter, putting his name on it would be redundant.

I was the only person in the family Grandpa Billy liked, and Grandpa Billy was the only person in the family that I liked. I suppose I got along alright with my little sister, but she moved down to Shreveport with some insurance salesman and I never see her anymore except on Facebook. Never really liked my parents. When I still lived with them all I could think about was when I didn’t have to. I’d spend every summer at Grandpa Billy’s when they’d let me. When it was my turn to go to college, I picked Stanford because it was the best college as far from my parents as I could find. They laughed and said I’d never be able to afford Stanford, but Grandpa Billy said he’d pay for it. Didn’t need his money, though. They gave me a full ride, and I stayed there as long as they’d have me. A Bachelors in Physics, then a PhD, then another PhD in Biochemistry. Just like Grandpa. I was working nights at the SLAC Accelerator, trying to decide if another PhD in Bioengineering would be the right way to go, or if I should try and go the faculty route and start working on my research, when I got the call about Grandpa.

To say I was devastated is an understatement. Grandpa was pretty much my only friend. We talked on the phone almost every day, and most nights we chatted away on IRC. He wasn’t sick. And he wasn’t old, not as far as he was concerned. He was focused on his research, on building something the world had never seen. That’s what we spent most of our time talking about. His death made no sense to me. Not at the time.

My mom is the one who made the call.

“Hi Will, it’s your mom.”

“I know, mom. I have caller ID.”

“Yes, well. I won’t keep you. I’m just calling to let you know that your Grandfather passed away during the day yesterday.”

“Oh, mom. I’m sorry to hear that. Was Papa sick, I don’t remember hearing anything.” I thought she was talking about her dad.

“No, not Papa. Your Grandfather William. Your dad said I’d better call you, that you’re the only one the old coot cared about.”

“What? No way, I just talked to him yesterday morning!” He wasn’t on IRC last night, but that wasn’t unusual. We had talked on my way into a class I was subbing for. Morning for me, but around one in the afternoon for Grandpa.

“Yes, well. That’s all I know. Try not to get too worked up. You know he was old. I just wanted to call and tell you. Ok? Bye-bye, I got to run out to the store.”

And he was gone.

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