A couple of weekends ago, we celebrated my grandpa's 87th birthday. A lot has happened in 87 years. He's fathered ten children (a daughter from his first wife whose name escapes me at the moment, Jean, Jane, Tom, Joan, Tim, Craig, Kent, Brian, and Lynn). He's been married three times. One marriage ended in divorce after the war. He's survived the other two women. My grandmother, Josephine, died of breast cancer in 1989. Mary, the woman he met at the hospital when they were both caring for dying spouses, died in 1997 from a stroke. He's had a girlfriend for the past seven years or so but they see less and less of each other as they get older.
I'm one of I don't know how many grandkids; Nick, Jenny, Andrea, Bud, Jacinda, Rod, Valerie, Ryan, Christi, Amanda, two step grandsons I don't know the names of, Jason, Jessica, Connie, Melissa (me!), Kyle, Matt, AJ, Kristy, Stephanie, Briana, Zach, Mark, Tyler, Alyssa, and Jillian. Ok, now I know, 27! We range in ages from 40 to 10. He also has a plethora of great-grand kids, somewhere around 21.
During World War II, he spent time as a prisoner of war in Germany. This is better than dying in the Normandy invasion which I've been told was the fate of most of his section. He got sick right before their departure and was delayed. He only has two teeth now. They began falling out after his return from Europe and he believes that is linked to something he was exposed to during his time there.
He's lived in the same house for the last thirty years or so; my whole life. When I was little I remember the inside being brown, a garden in the back, and lots and lots of people filling it up playing cards. He and his third wife renovated it some in the 90's which means it's country blue and white inside. He now lives there with his precious dachshund who he spoils sometimes to the dog's detriment.
He's of the opinion that he has lots of money. He doesn't spend it very often not even on medication. He has not one prescription. This is amazing to me since I know how many pills Stephen's grandma and even Stephen's parents already take. That makes sense since he refuses to see a doctor. He's generous with his kids and grandkids, though. Every year at Christmas, all the kids under the age of eighteen line up to get there $20 wad of cash (that's why I keep having kids :P).
The problem is that he doesn't always recognize who he's handing this money to anymore. My nephew, Gabe, went up to him at the park and he asks, "Who's this?". My sister tells him that Gabe is her son. "Who are you?", he replies.
"Oh, I thought he belonged to Connie."
Since he lives alone, we aren't always sure what he eats. He decided he needed to cut down on sweets so he only eats a few cookies for breakfast now. We know he spends a lot of time watching TV. He started watching some program about Cops who bait criminals. He finds this despicable and has suggested that these cops and anyone who defends them might not be going to heaven. He's also just generally weary of police officers due to this show. My cousin, AJ, just graduated from the police academy so this opinion has come at just the perfect time.
Other funny stories have emerged in recent years, like the time he hid his keys so a burglar wouldn't find them and then forgot where he left them. Or the time he stuck his hand which I think had a cut on it down in the tank of pariahs he kept in his house. Or the time he put a board in between the kitchen and back room as a booby trap for invaders which he forgot was there and tripped over scraping his legs up.
It's sad to see a once well minded man get so confused. He got lost recently in the town he's lived in for thirty-five years, and I guess he couldn't remember anyone's phone number who would know how to help him out. This is what it is to age, I suppose. He asked my cousin, Zach, at the park this question. "I wonder if you took everyone out of the park who was younger than me, how many people would be left."
Zach responded, "I hope not many, Grandpa."