I always feel like somebody’s watching me

9 November, 2012 (12:00) | Memories

When I was a kid I played baseball at a field that was on the same street as my grandfather’s (Pappap’s) house, but a good mile down the road, and across a pretty heavily trafficked intersection.

Let me back up a little bit.  You have to know a little bit about Pappap.  I’m sure my family, and extended family for sure, have different impressions of who he was.  As a kid growing up in the house with Pappap, he was kind of just around a lot.  He’d wake up early, sit at the opposite end of the kitchen table where a small black and white TV displayed CNN while he drank his coffee.  He’d wear his white sleeveless undershirt for most of the morning.  At some point, he’d slip on down to the miner’s club and do whatever he did there.  When he was home at night, he was laying on the couch watching CNN.  Sometimes, there would be a small exchange of conversation, but it was usually pretty quiet.  He was certainly a gentle spirit, I never thought he was apathetic, just satisfied to cut the grass and come in and have a can of Old Milwaukee.

Anyway, he never expressed a lot of interest in me, but one day, I was playing outfield and I looked up at the bleachers up on the hill and saw Pappap.  He wasn’t sitting on the bleachers cheering, he was just standing to the side.   Anyone else wouldn’t have even noticed him, and that’s probably what he was going for.  He stayed for most of the game.  I remember wanting to call out and wave to him, to show him I appreciated him coming to my game.  It was such a surprise to see him.  He left before the end of the game.  I was going home with my dad that night, but the next time I saw Pappap, I told him that I saw and asked if he had driven over or if he was just passing by.  He said that he walked over just to see me play.

That meant the world to me.  To give you my perspective – My dad went to EVERY game any of us went to; not to cheer us on, but to critique us on every mistake we made.  My mom NEVER went to games, either for lack of interest or fear of my dad.  Pappap though, he came just to watch me play.  Oh, hello father figure.

As I grew up, I grew closer to Pappap.  I understood him and I loved his candor and wit.  When he moved into a private care home, I’d go down and hang out by myself, sometimes not even telling anyone else that I was going.

I can’t remember a single time he ever told me he loved me.  I don’t remember a single hug.  Yet, I have the feeling that he did it all the time.