“Get me a stogie!” my crazy grandpa would yell,
as he sat there waving his gnarled cane,
like it was the staff of fire and locusts.
“Get me a Conestoga or I’ll kick your ass.”
And he would do it, even though I was just nine.
He didn’t bluff, didn’t pull any punches.
If he said something, no matter how outrageous,
he meant it, it came from his heart,
not like a lot of other people his age,
too pale or weak to cause a ruckus,
afraid of their feelings, scared to have a voice.
One day he hit my Uncle Leo squarely in the jaw.
“That’ll show you,” grandpa said, “not to mess with me.”
Grandpa had balls, even though his shoulders drooped
and he didn’t know who was who.
He was senile, had dementia as my aunt called it,
didn’t know my name or who was president,
yet he battled each day, strong as a warrior
up until that moment, he was forced to let go.
He couldn’t wave his cane or cause pestilence anymore.
He broke his hip, rode sidesaddle to the hospital
and we never heard him curse or yell again.
I told crazy grandpa before his final breath:
“I want to be just as crazy as you.”
For more on Crazy Grandpa, listen to my podcast, number 24, on Creative Writing Outloud.