Grandpa Fred History Month | Sam Stephenson

Photo by @carafife on Unsplash

November 2nd, 2017. The day I decided that November would be named “Grandpa Fred History Month.” It was a challenge I started with Will: who could find out the most about Grandpa? We went to visit grandpa on

November 4th, 2017. The day Grandpa only took a breath every 30 minutes, said “Well… now I can’t remember what I was going on about,” and proceeded to talk about some other topic that had no relation to the last. I jabbed Will in his neck with the butt of a pencil I had in my back pocket when I caught him staring at the clock. He complained on the car ride home that it hurt. When we got home, it was frozen chicken tenders, green beans, and tater tots. Will said he had the same thing for lunch at school and asked if he could have Oreos instead. I said no and took the remaining stack of Oreos up to my room when I went upstairs to play 2K.

November 15th, 2017. The day my brother and I fought. He was being a kid. I was being a teenager. I shouldn’t have let it happen, but I did. He hit me, I snapped. Grandpa shouted. Told us to get out. I told Will to knock it off and rocked patiently in Grandpa’s Lazyboy, my chair, forgetting the argument with Will. Will sat down across the room and was calm, too, but Grandpa still said (more quietly this time) to leave. His face said he wasn’t joking. Will and I didn’t share what we had learned about Grandpa that day on the ride home. I turned up the Adele song on the radio instead. I tried to tell Mom about it after work, but she went straight to the shower when she got home. She kissed my cheek and tussled my hair, asked if I needed anything, and went to bed.

November 21st, 2017. The day Grandpa didn’t talk much. My brother was pounding him with questions which were really stories of his own, but at least he was trying to win the contest. “Did you have a best friend in school? My best friend, Barney- he’s the best- we play Pokémon together and…” My grandpa looked like he was sleeping, eyes open. Will didn’t seem to mind talking to the open air when I left the room to call Mom. She showed up in twenty minutes, pulled out her medical bag, and took Grandpa’s blood sugar levels. I guess he missed his medicine that morning?

November 28th, 2017. The day I missed going to visit Grandpa. Late to school, forgot my homework, work was packed, I had to stay late because Maryam didn’t show up, I rushed to the school to pick up Will, and they had put him in after care. “We have to wait for his parental guardian to dismiss him.” I don’t see how me being on time or twenty minutes late changes the fact that I am the one who picks him up from school, but I should’ve been on time. I was on the way to Grandpa’s when I got a call from Mom that Dad wouldn’t be home to cook dinner, so could I pick up her clothes from the dry cleaners and get some milk, reheat the leftovers in the fridge and make grilled cheeses, and clean up the house because that guy is supposed to come tomorrow? Oh, and I had my college application essay due by midnight.

November 29th, 2017. The day Grandpa died. I couldn’t look Will in the eye.

November 1st, 2018. The first day of “Grandpa Fred History Month.” I drove 4 hours home from college to sit at the dinner table with Mom and Will. It was only three weeks shy of my Fall Break, but I needed to be home today. Mom cried when she saw me. Over brimming bowls of beef stew, we shared the best things we could remember about Grandpa Fred. Mom sent me back with a bag of cookies she had made the night before. When I got back to school, I stumbled into my apartment. Unshowered, exhausted, I plopped myself down in my Lazyboy. I grabbed a cookie out of the bag, and a slip of paper fell out with it: “I missed more than I realized. And I never got the chance to say thank you. Miss you always. Love, Mom”

One comment

  1. I saw this piece during the editing process and was please to saw that it made it into the final publication for Spring 2022. It really does feel like the kind of stream-of-consciousness account that someone would keep during a time of great loss like this. To see it refined and published is wonderful.

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