My Grandfather died when I was 9. I remember him as one of the most amazing men to ever live. In my memories, he is Atticus Finch. He was a lawyer, a father, a husband, a grandfather, and a friend to so many. I hang on to the memories of him so tightly and try to live a life that I think he would be proud of.
This memory is one that I do not actually have. What I have are faint images and strong feelings.
Sunday mornings in my house were mostly quiet. Some days my mother would take me church, but mostly it was viewed as a day of rest. Even as a child, I was grateful for those days. I have never been a morning person. My grandfather, on the other hand, grew up on a farm. Although he had adapted to “big city life”, he was still up with the sun and happy to be that way. He was up every Sunday for “early church” as it was known around my house. Keep in mind, we were Methodist, so early church was 8:00 am. I think that’s considered sleeping in to the Catholics.
Some mornings Granddad would come by the house to see if he could take me to church. My grandmother never went to church that I remember so he was always solo on Sunday mornings. As I got to know my grandmother in my adult years I learned that she, like me, enjoyed sleeping in so I get the feeling that Granddad was solo on most of his early morning adventures. I choose to think that he wanted to take me with him because I kept him company. I was a cute kid, and unlike some kids, I really enjoyed my grandfathers company. He was a truly classy gentleman and I loved that about him. I wish that I could say those things about my father. However, what my father lacked, my grandfather made up for.
One night in particular my father had one of his melt downs. These nights involved lots of yelling, lost of tears, and very little apologies or attempts to make right the hurt that haunts memories. The next day Granddad had come to the door to see if I could be his date for church. I looked out the window with swollen eyes, so ready to escape with him to a safe place. My dad answered the door and told him I was not awake and couldn’t go. My heart hurt. I stayed in bed pretending to sleep. Hoping that I could stay quiet enough to dodge my father’s anger.
Not much later there was a knock on the door. I peaked out my window again but this time there was no one there. I walked to my door to see if maybe our guest had come inside. This time my mother had answered the door. When she saw me she handed me the small box that had been left at the door. It was a Dunkin Donut box with a note saying “To Angela. From The Donut Fairy.”
I knew right away that my white knight of a grandfather had brought me simple fried dough to make me smile. They were the donut holes. The bite sized ones. In all different flavors. I knew it was him. It was like a code. A message, that he knew that I was hurting but he loved me and wanted to make things better for me.
Later that day we went to Sunday lunch at his house. My father had to let my mother and me go. It would have been a sign that something was wrong if we weren’t there. When we got there I ran up to hug Granddad and thank him for his wonderful gift. But he denied it. He acted as if he had no idea what I was talking about. I kept trying to thank him but he wouldn’t let me. I was not the brightest bulb in the crayon box but I was pretty sure there was no “Donut Fairy.” But he would not have it.
It took a long time for me to appreciate this lesson, or even to see that there was one. Sometimes we don’t do things for the thanks, but for the light that it can provide someone. Thanks to my grandfather, there will always be a Santa, an Easter Bunny, and a Donut Fairy.