Driving with Grandpa

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“I’m going to live to be at least 100!” my grandpa always says in between smacks of gum. And he probably will—Grandpa runs 9 miles a day, eats like a horse, and has a mouth that never stops spewing out random information. He’s also the only one who trusts me enough to take me driving.
Following his calm instructions, I adjust my mirrors, buckle my seatbelt, and put the car in drive. Unlike my mom, who practically cuts off the circulation in her fingers from grasping the seat of her chair so tightly, or my dad, who completely ignores me until I do something stupid, Grandpa just watches me drive, making helpful comments only when necessary.
Seventy year men are expected to be feeble, weak, forgetful. But Grandpa refuses to adhere to expectations of what an old man should be. Of course, he has his moments, but, when in his presence, I feel as if I’m with a classmate or a close friend rather than a “senior citizen.” Thirty years serving as an undercover cop in the NYPD made Grandpa fearless. He’ll eat anything or go on any rollercoaster if he thinks it will make someone he loves happy. He’ll even sit in the passenger seat of a car on a highway with me behind the steering wheel, trusting my abilities completely, even when I don’t even trust myself. I feel myself relax: my shoulders loosen slightly from their rigid hunch, my neck slowly stops its incessant, nervous sweating, and my fingers slacken from the wheel. Grandpa notices and nods as if in approval, still making sure I’m aware of my surroundings and checking my mirrors.
“I was looking over that book your mother showed me, you know how I like those long war books; not sure what I like about them though, I guess they’re just so interesting, but anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the book…” Oh, Lord. He’s at it again—rambling about topics no one really cares about, but I pretend to listen because he thinks he’s saying something extraordinary. After awhile I catch something about going home, so reluctantly, but appreciatively since I’m pretty tired of driving, I flick on my blinker and start heading home. I actually don’t know how to get home, considering my terrible sense of direction, but Grandpa guides me home without making me feel like an idiot for not knowing the street names.
When we finally pull into my driveway, Grandpa pats me on the back affectionately. He is proud of me. He is proud of me! And he’s proud not in a surprised way or a sarcastic way, but in a simple way. As we get out of the car, I notice he’s kind of proud of himself, too. Like the relationship between honey bees and flowers, I think he needs to help others as much as others need his help, because that’s what Grandpa is—a giver. It’s what he’s always done, from his policeman days to being a giving father to a giving grandfather. Smiling goofily and whistling Amazing Grace like always, Grandpa waltzes inside, holding the door open for me on his way in.





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