Jimmy and his dad, Pop, have a running joke. Every time Jimmy calls and asks for Mommy, Pop says sarcastically "That's alright, Mister. How important are fathers anyway?" Jimmy always laughs and gives a funny reply that suggests that he's sorry and that Pop is surely terribly important.
But really? I'm pretty sure that there are about a zillion layers of passive-aggressive anger behind this entire exchange, all relating to Pop's past performance as a father. Not that he was a bad father. I guess it's a question of how one would define "bad". Mommy has a saying which she tore out of a magazine and taped to the inside of the basement door, right in the perfect place so Pop has to look at it every time he goes downstairs to get a beer from the extra refrigerator. It says "The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother." Yes, Mommy is a master of the passive aggression.
Because Pop was NOT a good husband. Yes, he provided. No, he wasn't a drunk or physically abusive. However, he was...I might as well be blunt...a philanderer. His years of philandering culminated in "The Hiatus", the 20 years during which Pop had left Mommy and lived with "That Woman". I highly recommend reading THIS post, which tells the whole bloody, juicy saga. So despite the fact that Pop sees himself as the family hero, the excellent provider who always took care of everyone, the truth is that he basically thoroughly screwed everybody up.
But then along came Jude, Pop's one and only grandchild and a manchild no less, and the man complete transformed. He is the Uber-Grandpa. He adores that boy, and that boy adores him. It's a lovely thing to witness.
I never had a grandfather. Mama's father died in 1935 when she was 11 years old, and Daddy's father passed in 1941. I have no idea what it's like to have a grandfather, but I have many preconceived ideas, and...dreams. And Jude and Pop's relationship thoroughly achieves them.
They have their little "things"...
But mostly they have deep, meaningful talks.
Last summer, I left Jude with Mommy and Pop while I went into Manhattan to see friends, and when I came back, I discovered that Pop had taken it upon himself to explain to Jude the meaning of life. This was serious stuff, and when I asked Jude to tell me about it afterwards he informed me that really it was between Grandpa and him. Put me right in my place. I was able to piece together that there was much talk about growing up and responsibility and respect for family and respect for women (ha!). All very dear.
A couple of months ago, they had "the talk" in Jude's fifth grade class. The boys and girls were separated and each were told about puberty and their changing bodies by a parent/physician. Afterwards, I told him that if he wanted to, this might be a good time to talk to Daddy about these things (I had already given him "the talk" about the birds and the bees, but it was pretty clinical). Jude looked thoughtful then said "Nah, I think I'll wait and talk to Grandpa about it. I bet he can tell me a thing or two about puberty." And I think this is true.
Back in 2011, Jude interviewed Pop for an Oral History project in school. Below is the link to the interview. I know it's long, but it's amazingly wonderful, and oh so Pop, filled with hyperbole and stories of questionable veracity. And you get to hear Jude's sweet little teeny boy voice. I am the loudmouth who is "helping" a little too much. Skip through the first minute or two to get to the good stuff.
When I was pulling this file, Jude heard it and got embarrassed. He thought he sounded dumb. But I know that in years to come, he will cherish this audio file with all his heart.
I guess fathers are important after all.
Don't you dare leave without visiting our other Fathers spinners!
Come back on Monday to find out Ginny Marie and my Spin Cycle topic for next week. And a heads up that I'll be starting Camp Mama 2014 next week. Yep, it's that time of year!
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