|My grandfather at one of his last family gatherings|
My grandfather was a gruff man, but a good man. He loved his grand kids immensely. Any time the entire family (which at the time he was alive consisted of 4 children, 3 spouses of those children, and 12 grandchildren) he would go through several names when calling one of us before he finally gave up and said, “You, come here!” He smoked and drank at least as long as I was alive, which is unfortunately probably the thing that killed him. “Dad”, as well all lovingly called him, grew up during some world changing times in our country. He had worked until he could work no more. He had strong opinions on life and always let you know them.
I don’t remember a lot about specific times with “Dad”, but I do remember one Christmas gathering at his house. We were playing a new game called “Bite the Bag”. I know, I know, what in the world is that, you ask? Well, I didn’t know either. My cousin had given us the game idea…I don’t really know if she made it up or if she had played it before. Here’s the basic premise: You take a brown paper grocery bag (do they even have these anymore?) and you put it on the floor. The first person has to bend down and bite the bag but cannot use their hands in any way and they cannot sit on the floor; they have to bend down. After that person successfully completes their turn, you tear off that part of the bag and the next player goes. This games requires being limber when the bag gets smaller. It was down to only a couple of us toward the end. My cousin, who had come up with this way that she would wrap her arms around her legs to bend over, was set to go next. “Dad” chimed in from his recliner and said that he wanted to try. So, while sitting in his recliner, he is trying to do his arms around his legs like my cousin when all of a sudden, before anybody knows what is happening, he pulls his dentures out and bites the bag!
We laughed until we cried and we never tire of telling that story, even so many years after his death. In fact, there are now several great-grandchildren with whom I fondly tell that story to from time to time. I miss “Dad” but thankfully he’s in heaven now…probably playing a rousing game of “Bite the Bag” with the angels.