I hardly ever think of my grandpas. I had two. My dad’s father walked out on his family when my dad was 11. We hardly ever saw him. When we did, he gave us cheese-puffs. I was allowed to play on his Hammond. I am still angry at my cousin for taking that Hammond after grandpa died and selling it, as it really is my only connection to that grandpa. And a powerful one. Playing that Hammond was something he insisted I do, yet it never seemed to make him happy. The opposite even.
Yesterday, my thoughts drifted to the other grandpa. I was on a boat, gliding through the canals of Amsterdam. I closed my eyes, caught the sun. “Down,” my man said on approaching a low bridge. This is when the memory of my other grandpa flooded in. He lived by a lake. You could only reach him and my grandma by boat. He had a splintery wooden boat. When we were younger, he’d take us out on long trips with that boat, across vast lakes connected by the tiniest of canals. We’d have to hop on to land and open bridges. Or, he’d tell us to go “down” and we all lay there on the bottom of the boat. So would he. His old, pigmented hand clutched onto the oar as the bridge blanketed us in darkness. Our little heart’s pounding in fear and excitement. “I need your help team,” he’d grunt as clearly he was stuck. We had to reach up and grab the bottom of the bridge, pull ourselves past it. Often, I imagined how we’d be stuck there and nobody would ever find us. I also worried about grandpa’s back. But by the time we squeezed our way to the other side of the bridge, he’d sit up and smile. He’d then glance over the fields and sigh contently.