My grandson, Cal, sat close beside me as I started my story.
“I remember it like it was yesterday, the day my own grandpa decided I was old enough to start to understand life. You with me, Cal?”
“I’m with you, Grandpa.”
I watched Cal hunker down into his chair and close his eyes. He loved this story and I certainly didn’t want to tell it wrong or I’d never hear the end of it.
I settled in, eyes closed, and my mind drifted back to when I was Cal’s age and spent the night with my grandfather
“I heard heavy footsteps outside my door and soon he stood over me. I opened one eye but it was still dark outside.
“‘Up and at ’em, Bobby.’
“‘You sure you’re not sleep walkin’ or somethin’, Gramps?’
“He laughed then picked me up and set me on the cool floor. ‘No, not sleep walking. Grams has breakfast for us.’
“He stood beside me while I stuck my legs in my Levis, then he helped me cinch up my belt. ‘Today’s a special day. I want you to know what farm life is really like, from the early morning on through the day. Think you can handle that?’
“I was a little confused; especially considering I snuck a peak at the clock and it said five. ‘Guess so.’
“‘You’ll do whatever I ask?’
“I followed him down the hall. He stopped on the landing. I bumped right into him. Good thing I wasn’t a little bigger and heavier or he would have toppled down.
“‘What do you smell, Bobby?’
“I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stretched my arms with a loud yawn. ‘Yum…bacon.’
“‘Your Grams wakes up early everyday just so she can make sure I have a good breakfast before I go do chores. She’s a good woman, Bobby. My prayer is for you to find a wife just as good or better.”
“I shivered. Thinking about a wife about made me want to pass up breakfast. ‘Bluck. Girls.’
“Gramps laughed. ‘Okay, no more girl talk. You remember your grandma, though, when the time comes that you like girls. Got it?’ He ruffled my hair and went down the steps. I followed right behind, but stayed far enough back in case he stopped fast again.
“He kissed Grams on the lips, right in front of me. My cheeks got red.
“‘Give your grams a kiss and hug, Bobby, and take a big whiff.’
“I trudged over thinking I was too big to be handing out smooches but I promised to do what he said. I brushed her cheek fast and gave her a half-hearted hug then she grabbed me and doused my face and neck with kisses. I breathed in deep and smiled.
“‘She smells like mornin’.’
“Cal, your great-grandma had a fresh, clean, soapy, just-took-a-shower kinda smell.”
“That’s what Grandma smells like.”
I smiled then got back into my story-mode.
“We ate breakfast quick then we stepped down into our work boots. The air was a bit chilly, up with the birds like we were. Gramps took my hand and walked me right dab into a cornfield. The blades smacked me in the face so Gramps hefted me onto his shoulders. I could see the world from up there.
“‘Smell deep, son.’
“I took a deep breath. ‘Smells sweet.’
“‘That’s the smell of money.’
“‘Once it’s ready, we sell it.’
“‘Oh, farm money smell.’
“Exactly.” Cal said that with me. He knew the story better than I did.
“Cal, just like Gramps told me, this place will be yours one day. It’s important you appreciate what’s around you.”
Cal stood up and wrapped his chubby arms around my neck and breathed in.
“I’ll always remember your smell, Grampa,” he said as he plugged his nose.
“What a funny kid. Now, where was I?”
Cal shushed me. “My turn.”
And off he went, telling me my own story until the smell of popcorn stopped him.
“Gramps, smell that?”
I grinned. “Last one to the kitchen gets to wash the dishes for Grandma!”
Cal was lots quicker than me. I followed in his wake, happy that the new memories made with Cal were just as sweet or sweeter than my own childhood memories.
Cal peeked around the corner. “Don’t worry. I’ll help you do the dishes, Slowpoke!”
I smiled. I wonder if he’ll tell his own grandson stories about us? “Coming, Cal.”
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