Grandpa turns 96 today! We are celebrating with a small dinner at a nice restaurant with just the 4 of us (Mom, Dad, me, and Grandpa). We had a whole big family thing last year for 95, but this year we get to be more lowkey. However, I do feel like I should do SOMETHING, and so I am getting him this lovely blog post. That he will probably not read. But oh well, I know it’s there.
Grandpa grew up in a combined household for the first 8 years of his life, complete with a family home in the country that they all went to for holidays.
He grew up in the city and was kind of a cool teenager, all his friends used to pile into his car and drive over to the Aragon Ballroom for the dances. Just like this, except without drinking (Grandpa doesn’t drink) and with big band music and suit coats (you weren’t allowed in without a jacket).
One of those friends was Uncle Pat, his best friend since he was 8 years old. He’ll be coming up again.
And then he went off to college, a different school than Uncle Pat, and met my Grandma on a blind date when they were both 18, a couple of months after school started. She brought a loaf of bread she had just made in her cooking class to their first date, he bought them a coke, and they split the bread. And fell in love. It was exactly like this, except without the love triangle and with bread instead of a guitar.
They had an actual wedding, which is notable in my family since we are big on elopements, but it was a very hurried wedding because Grandpa only had a 48 hour leave and they only had a week’s notice that he was coming. But somehow it all came together, complete with family coming in from out of town, bridesmaids, church, fancy wedding dress, whole deal. Only slightly less elaborate than this.
And then Grandpa went off to fly planes in the Army Air Corps. He looked almost nothing like this, although he also had a flight suit and cool flight guy sunglasses. And Grandma was in nursing school, not a dancer. But otherwise, identical!
And then he came back and they bought a house and had a baby (my aunt) and so on and so on. But, before all that, remember Uncle Pat? Who I promised would come up again? My Grandpa had a little sister who always was kind of around. And at some point, she stopped being just his little sister and she and Uncle Pat fell in love. Very filmi, your best friend falling in love with your little sister. It was just like this, except that Uncle Pat wasn’t a movie star.
And combined family part two! Best friends since childhood are now brother-in-laws, all the kids grow up together, it’s all the best of times. Just like in a southern movie, except without the flirtation because they are all cousin-brother/sisters, not just cousins.
Oh, did I mention he was also an engineer?
And then the kids grew up and moved out and there was the long slow wait for ME! Or, more generally, grandchildren. Grandpa has 5 granddaughters, and it makes him sooooo happy. Part of the reason it’s really hard for me to grasp the whole way sex preference works in Indian society is that the “Patriarch” of my family was all “woo-hoo! Another girl! I will have tea parties with them all and play dolls and be all happy when we walk down the street together!” This kind of thing, except with 5 little girls instead of one little boy.
And now Grandpa is 96. Of course, the downside of turning 96 is that you are very lonely since pretty much everyone I just mentioned in his life earlier in this post is no longer alive.
But now he is turning 96, and at least the next generation is still here! The little bit of family that is in town, and the family that is out of town half of which visited two weeks ago, and the other half of which is coming to town next week. So he gets spread out celebrations.