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Grandpa Always Has The Last Word


My paternal grandfather was as cantankerous and ornery as they come; however he was fiercely loyal to his family and friends. He built the house my Dad was born and grew up in, always had grease under his nails from his job calibrating heavy machinery, and drove a 1966 Chevelle that most of my high school friends would have given their eye-teeth for. He was still driving it up until his death in 1999.

Grandpa took guff from no one and if someone were to start an argument with him, they more than likely would not win. He was a tough nut to crack and very few crossed him. Up into my thirties he was still handing me a dollar bill and with a wink of an eye would tell me not to spend it all in one place. You were either a Dumb-Ass or a Smart-Ass in Grandpa's book. Both words were interchangeably and were a regular part of Grandpa's vocabulary.

Grandpa came for a visit one year in the 1980s. I was about 16 or 17. Being the 80s and all, I had just spent a half hour in the bathroom with a can of Aqua Net hair spray to perfect that defied gravity look that most teenage girls my age were doing at the time. Grandpa took one look at me and exclaimed, "Jennifer, what the hell did you do to your hair?! Did you comb it with a pitchfork?" I, being ever so smug, responded,"Sorry Grandpa, I'm just a product of the music I listen to..." He shook his head, walked away and under his breath I heard him say, "Smart-Ass..."

On another occasion my family went up to Burlington, VT for a getaway weekend. We were out with Grandpa driving 30 mph in his old Chevelle down a 55 mph road when we stopped at a general store to pick a few things up. Apparently I was taking too long. Grandpa was leaning on the horn and shouting for me to come out. After turning about six shades of red, and paying for my Coke, I quickly got to the car. Grandpa beeped the horn one last time for good measure as I placed my hand on the door handle. "Get in the car, Dumb-Ass," he shouted. I wanted to hide under a rock, I was so humiliated.

Right before the turn of the new millennium, my sister called me to let me know that Grandpa had passed. I was sad but in all honesty he and I were not that close (as if you couldn't tell already). On the following afternoon before we ventured to Connecticut for the funeral, I was walking through my apartment when I could literally smell my grandfather. I could smell the grease that always coated his hands and also the smells of his home that consisted of cooking smells and cleaning products. If I had shut my eyes I could have sworn he was right there. I started to cry and I said out loud, "I'm sorry Grandpa that I didn't visit you more. I'm so sorry..." The smell faded after awhile.

The night before the funeral I learned that as rough as my Grandfather was, he had been supplying an underprivileged family with money for years anonymously. He helped many people when they were down on their luck and never brought it up or bragged about it. He was tough on his kids and grand kids as his own parents were to him. It was an extreme form of tough love.

On the morning of the funeral while waiting my turn for the shower, I decided to go down to the basement and poke around Grandpa's old workbench. He had quotes he had gathered over the years written in his own handwriting with a lead pencil all over the workbench. I started reading them and suddenly felt nostalgic. There was even a message from my Aunt, his youngest child, and it was dated 1960. As I continued to read and reflect on the hidden parts of his life that I had just found out about, a block of wood dislodged itself from the workbench and landed on my foot. Man, did that hurt. I reached down to rub my foot when I happened to notice the following quote that had been obscured by said block of wood: "Your looks may be fading but you will always be a Dumb-Ass. Nobody likes a Dumb-Ass..."

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Even in death Grandpa indeed had gotten in the last word.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Jennifer40, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

whitebuffalo (guest)
16 years ago (2008-04-08)
Hi Jennifer,
Is it not amazing that we THINK we know how someone feels about us, but sometimes we are not even close? We do not even touch the tip of the iceberg on some of our thoughts.
How endearing that he would chose to say Goodbye by sliding the slat of wood onto your foot. What an interesting phrase to leave you with. 😆 I love it.
Thank you.
HauteCouture (2 stories) (18 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-07)
What a special thing to have happen to you, your grandpa was just letting you know he was alright and he loved you. I could picture him asking about your hair and embarassing you at the gas station. I could even imagine what he sounded like. Great Story! ❤ 😁
BCEagles25 (38 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-06)
This is very well written, thanks for sharing!

I was smiling as I read and felt your story's humor, horror, and sadness.

Good story, he's definetly watching.
Jennifer40 (20 stories) (202 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-05)
Yes, he was a really tough man but I know he loved us all in his own way. I was not allowed to touch anything in his house when I was growing up, which for a little kid was really tough. He had a collection of National Geographic mags dating back to the 1940s and I remember looking at one briefly before it was taken from my hands and placed back on the shelf. Sadly, after his death, all those mags were thrown out.

I ended up marrying someone who is very ornery --but never mean. He actually has the best of my Grandfather's traits so I'm sure he rubbed off on me in a positive way.

Jennifer ❤
poltergeist45 (1 stories) (46 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-04)
Wow your not kidding when you said tough love! But just because he is hard on you doesn't mean hes not watching over you 😉. I'm sorry for your loss and the fact that your grandfather was sorta mean (no offense). Thanks for the story!
rhodes68 (14 stories) (1596 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-04)
Hi Jennifer and thank you for a lovely story. Despite his hard exterior, your grandpa was a loving man. It takes a very generous heart to offer help to those in need. You should be proud of him.

Tammy ❤
TheUnknown (1 stories) (192 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
Man,thats go to hurt a lot, your grand father is serios and might have pushed that block of wood and hit your foot.

He might be gone, as you say, but he will watch you every moment and so on...
babyfranz (3 stories) (36 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
I agree with Chrono. I want to experience how the 80's was. Full of color, life, simply fabulous! I enjoyed your story Jennifer40. Very well told. I'm sorry for your loss as well. Take Care!
Chrono (2 stories) (41 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
I loved this story, especially when you talked about your hair! Ahh the 80's. I did not live in that era, but I definatly wish I did.
Anyways, sorry to hear about your loss!
Your grandpa seems a lot like mine, very tough and strict.
Take care,
Chrono 😳
FRAWIN (guest)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
Hello Jennifer. Thank you for another wonderful story, I enjoyed it tremendously. Grandpa seemed like my kind of guy and I'm sure that he loved you all more than you ever realized. I believe the incident in the shop was him saying bye in his own "Grandpa way". Take Care.

Annie (202 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
What a great story! You were blessed to have received such a "message" from your Grandpa. I know it might not have been what you wanted to hear, you still got a great message. He must have thought you extra special to send that loving note on to you. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.
KimSouthO (27 stories) (1960 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
First of all, my deepest sympathy for your loss.

Second, what a wonderful story! Thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us! I can see it happening, the wood, the car ride, the hair with the pitch fork, all of it. What a beautiful tribute to your grand father that you shared this story.

I rarely believe in coinsedences, and I believe that hunk of wood was dis-lodged for a reason.

God Bless!
Jennifer40 (20 stories) (202 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
Hi Chris,
Glad you enjoyed it. My grandfather was a cross between the dad on That 70s Show, and the 'Grumpy Old Man' character from Saturday Night Live in the early 90s.

It would not surprise me in the least if he had something to do with that block of wood falling. I laugh about it now. I'm glad it made you laugh too. I was happy to relay this tale as it wasn't scary or spooky, but rather funny I thought. 😳

Jennifer ❤
ChrisB (6 stories) (1515 posts)
16 years ago (2008-04-03)
Jennifer my deepest sympathy to your lost. But to tell you the truth I laughed to death reading your story. The part when you combed your hair. I think I will remember that for many years. Although I to was raised in a similar way I think I learned a lot more. I think my whole family did. My father was hard, demanded a lot at a very young age. Work was medicine for everything. But We all learned a lot from him. There are some things I didn't like but hey, no one is perfect. I think you all learned a lot from your grandfather. And when you got hit by a log, I think he was trying to say that you shouldnt be in his work shop. I don't know why but my dad hated it when someone was in there. Maybe your Granfather didn't like it either? Work alone type of person. Thank you for sharring. I hope this wasn to borring? I hope to hear from you soon and take care

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