We’re on a last minute trip to Mississippi to visit my grandparents and aunts and uncles. I love my grandparents. I wish we were staying for another day, but I think we’re headed back tomorrow. This trip is too short – we just got here on Sunday – doesn’t seem right to be leaving so early. But there are things that need to be taken care of back in Texas. My truck has to be fixed and I’ve got to get cracking on my job search (fruitless as its been so far). I know my grandparents wish we were staying on at least one more day.
Cooking dinner this afternoon with my grandma in the kitchen has been wonderful. I have every intention of starting a loaf of sour dough bread when I get back home. I remember coming to Mississippi during the summers growing up and she would have a hot loaf of sour dough bread for every meal. We all love sour dough bread. But today was too late to start so I helped and stood watching nearby as my grandma made angel biscuits. Just like my mom, everything she makes is wonderful and the best food you’ve ever had in your life.
I love watching my grandmother’s hands. I think she would have been self-conscious if she had caught me watching her knead the dough. My eyes got a little misty as I was thinking back on all the things her hands have done in her life. I didn’t let her see me though because I knew I’d have to tell her what had got me started crying. I hope I have hands like my grandma’s when I’m older.
At one point my pawpaw came into the kitchen and sat down at the kitchen table. I’m not sure what loosened up his tongue, but he started talking and telling stories about the war and being in the army. I always remember him as being the strong, silent one in the family, but I love it when he starts joking and talking all the time. My grandma has a tendency to talk over him because he speaks slower than she does – he’s had at least one stroke – but also she’s heard all of his stories before. Today she tried to shoo him out of the kitchen because she was having a hard time cooking and listening to him at the same time. But since I wouldn’t move to go to the living room, and I was his audience, he stayed right there and told me stories about the war. He almost never talks about the war. Today I saw my grandpa cry for the first time in my life. And I was crying too. He told me about seeing his brother Chester in Naples, Italy; how it was a surprise to see him because he didn’t know his brother was over there. Chester knew my pawpaw was in Naples though. He started tearing up while telling me about a little Jewish boy Chester had befriended when he was liberating prisoners from one of the death camps. The boy eventually moved to America with his family where he became a citizen, joined the army, and found Chester through the VA many years later. After freeing the prisoners Chester’s unit was due to move out somewhere else. The commander that was overseeing those troops heard Chester say that he had a brother in Naples. The man (maybe a sergeant) told Chester that if he would meet them in their next city by the afternoon of the following day he could go find his brother.
My pawpaw had been on a three-day leave in Rome and was on his way back to the base the same day that Chester went to find him. When CG (my pawpaw) got back to his barrack there was someone sleeping on his cot. The guys next to him told him that the sleeping man was a new recruit who had taken over CG’s cot. My pawpaw laughed as he told me that he took the edge of his cot and flipped it over with the man in it, ready for a fight. Chester stood up and uncovered his face and completely shocked and surprised my pawpaw. We were both laughing and crying at this point. Then we were kicked out of the kitchen. There was so much hustle and bustle going on in the room I don’t know if anyone else really heard the story or saw him crying. It was too much for me. I went to the bathroom to hide out for a minute. And then I came here to write this down so I wouldn’t forget. I think I’ll stop crying in minute. God, I miss them. I don’t get over here to visit them nearly enough. And I hate that we’re leaving so quickly when we just got here. I can’t even think for a second about a day in the future when they won’t be here. It just reduces me to tears all over again. Well, shit. I guess I’ll sit here and cry for a few minutes and then pull it together and go back out to the living room. I’ve got to get pictures of them before we leave. I miss them already. More than I miss Austin – and that’s a lot.