Not one to give in, he took a step back, then bulldozed into our arms with the full weight and strength of his body, applying constant force and pressure, with no sign of stopping.
Wincing in pain, I released my grip.
Unfortunately, my friend refused to release hers.
The force against my arm was so great that I yelled out, “Stop! Let go!”
But they wouldn’t listen.
My painful plight appeared not to phase them.
The unbearable pressure continued.
Finally, weakened by the constant exertion being placed against her, my friend released her grip on my arm.
With tears in my eyes, I reached for my wounded limb–certain that I had never before experienced so much pain.
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Turning away from my friends in an effort to hide my tears, I glanced up and noticed two people approaching in the distance.
One woman, average height, with short wavy blond hair.
One man, tall and lanky, with a beard, and a baseball cap on his head.
“Could it be?” I thought to myself, peering at them through watery eyes.
Blinking quickly to clear the tears, I refocused my sight on the figures, who were now much closer than they had been before.
They had stopped, ten feet in front of me, and were smiling.
I smiled back, then waved hello, for there, standing before me, just as I had initially thought, were my grandpa and his wife.
MY MOTHER’S FATHER
A truck driver by trade, my grandpa made his way to our little town every half-dozen years or so. When he did, he would park his truck on the main road and walk the short distance to our house. We always enjoyed his visits, though they were few and far between.
Now here he was, surprising us, yet again, with one of his visits.
Seeing him standing in front of me on the road between his parked truck and my house made me think of my mom…
Only thirteen when her parents divorced, she experienced a certain pain and numbness in her teenage years that no child or young adult should have to endure–memories so painful that she subconsciously blocked them from her mind.
Years of forgotten birthday celebrations, Christmases, and other family-related activities.
Where had those years gone?
They were drowned in the pain of divorce.
Never before had she experienced so much pain.
Her heart was broken, of that she was certain.
Returning my attention to my grandpa, I gave him and his wife a hug, then walked with them down the dirt road that led to our house.
Boy, was my family going to be surprised to see them!
The smell of homemade bread filled the air as we approached the front door.
Entering the house, we were soon surrounded by my younger siblings, many of whom wondered who this tall stranger was.
“This is your grandpa!” my mom announced, wiping her doughy hands on her apron. “What an unexpected surprise,” she continued, smiling in the direction of our guests.
She welcomed them inside, and made them feel right at home.
My mom’s teenage years were filled with the responsibility meant for an adult: cleaning the house, cooking the food, caring for her younger siblings.
An overwhelming amount of work, with no time left for play.
She had no choice; her mom was away at work all week, trying her best to support the family.
Only rarely did she see her dad.
“Mmmm…”…my grandpa said, as I pulled several loaves of bread out of the oven with my good arm. “You think it would be okay if I had a warm slice of bread with butter on it?”
I paused, then said, “Well, I wish I could let you have a slice…it does smell good, doesn’t it?…but mom made me promise not to let anyone touch the bread until she gets home…and I think that includes you. Sorry.”
I may have been shy, but I was determined, as always, to keep my word.
“But the bread will be cold by the time she gets home…” he whimpered.
“Sorry,” I said, with a shrug of my shoulders.
RAISING A FAMILY
Mom married young.
She was only 19.
She knew how to keep house, and, boy, could she could bake a mean loaf of bread!
She had had years of practice, after all.
It wasn’t long before she had a houseful of children.
Seven, to be exact.
Seven in ten years.
Yes, she knew how to care for her children.
She had had years of practice, after all.
If her teen years had taught her anything, it was how to raise a family.
“Did you enjoy the bread,” mom asked grandpa as she walked through the front door with an armful of groceries.
“Are you kidding?” he said, “Your daughter wouldn’t let me have any.”
“Why not?” mom asked, looking at me.
“You told me not to let anyone touch the bread until you got home,” I replied.
She laughed and said, “What I meant was ‘Don’t let the kids touch the bread’. Your grandpa could have had some!” She continued laughing as she looked at grandpa.
He was not smiling.
“Would you like a slice of bread right now?” mom asked him, reaching for the butter.
“Sure,” he said, looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, “but it’s COLD bread.”
With a half-smile and a shrug of the shoulders, I said, “sorry”, then rubbed my aching arm.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Grandpa stayed for a few days.
We made some fun memories, and then he was gone.
Several years would go by before we would see him again.
AN ACHY ARM
My arm that had bothered me so much during my grandpa’s unexpected visit continued to ache for a few days.
It had been wounded, but was not broken.
And my mom?
My mom continued to bake her homemade bread, in addition to the countless other things she did for our family.