Grandpa’s kind eyes

He was a quiet man who twitched and hesitated as he spoke.
I don’t remember his words, only the sounds between them
and the tone which gave away, if not his disapproval
then most often his uncertainty.
But his actions were always kind, filling us with pancakes
doting on my grandmother, moving around the house
like a friendly ghost.
Only his eyes had something else to say
and you were drawn to them like a soft light in a dark room
hoping they would reveal something more.

He was an old man with a twitch who seemed to vanish in
and out of the rooms he occupied. He had very little physical presence.
The only times I ever saw him move quickly was in his church
popping up and down during prayers
making sure he was the first on his feet
or the first on his knees. He did it as if he needed to convince his god
that he could follow directions and maybe even lead the crowd
if he was quick enough.

I never noticed that he had ever been a younger man.
I never even saw him as a father to his children.
He never even left me wondering who he was,
until he was dead.

Now I have only the things he left behind to know him.
His children have kind eyes like him and walk quietly.
At his funeral his life history did not show up on their lips
only in boxes in the basement for me to find.

His photos reveal a very present man. A man that may have had
a sense of humor, that may have had something to say, a man
who may have loved deeply. But in his photos I also see my grandfather
tilting his head saying maybe not.

Sioux Falls South Dakota

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2 Responses to Grandpa’s kind eyes

  1. Avatar The 13th says:

    Nice, Karen!

  2. Avatar Lisa says:

    Grandpa looks a bit like a matador and in this photo, perhaps even a little Picassoesque. I don’t see the five o’clock shadow I always associated with him, or Fred Flintstone. It’s not that he wasn’t clean-shaven. Quite the opposite. It’s as if he would shave to reveal a texture that only a blade and shaving cream could accomplish. Grandpa always smelled of Barbasol and deodorant. I don’t remember any body odor ever. He was as spick and span as my Grandmother’s house. He lived with her, but for some reason, it always felt like her house. Perhaps he kept himself tidy to stick with the program. Well-groomed, I guess you’d say. He was a salesman, after all, so he must have developed a good habit of maintaining his presentability. It is not something I took note of being around him, but more a lasting impression triggered every so often when I’m in a drug store and catch a whiff of Right Guard and brilliantine.

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