Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Man from Swift Current Chapter Sixteen - My Grandparents' Place

Chapter Sixteen – My Grandpa’s Place

We were up early so I didn’t get to see Rick, again, before Keith and I left for our grandparents’ house.   Along the way, Keith kept me amused by telling me stories about how they, Rick, Keith and Roger, got into so much trouble at school.   I enjoyed listening not just because Keith is a good story teller but because I learned more about Rick.   Whenever there was a lull in the conversation, my mind would take me back to yesterday afternoon and how wonderful I felt being held in Rick’s arms and the feel of his body next to mine.   I knew I shouldn’t be thinking about Rick in that way.   He is Keith’s best friend and Rick saw me as his friend because Keith is my cousin.  Why is it that we always want what we can’t have? 

It seemed like no time at all and we were pulling into the driveway of our grandparents’ house.  Grandma greeted us at the door as we came in from the garage.   She gave us a big hug and a kiss.   She held me close for bit longer, then held me at arms’ length as she looked me in the eyes.  

“Glenn, you seem to be in better shape than when you left.   Keith must have shown you a good time!   I was really worried about you.”

“I’m much better, Grandma.  You don’t have to worry about me,” I responded, giving her a quick hug.

“You know you can talk to me any time you need to.   I promise I’m a good listener,” she said.

“I know, Grandma.”

“Your grandpa is waiting for you in the study.   You had better not keep him waiting.”

“Okay,” I said, as I headed down towards the grandpa’s study.

Grandpa greeted me with a quick hug and asked me to set down for a minute.

“You know we consider a college education very important and have set aside money for every one of our grandchildren to cover their educational expenses.   We will cover the cost of tuition and books, as well as room and board, as long as you put in a serious effort to study and complete your degree,” Grandpa said, looking very stern as he looked over his glasses at me.

“I understand, Grandpa.”

“Your mother applied for your social security number when you were born so we have that already.   You brought your passport and driver’s license with you when we left Canada, so we are covered there.   Your mother also provided me a copy of your birth certificate, just in case we needed it.   Do you have your driver’s license in your wallet?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Good, I have your passport, social security card and your birth certificate here so I think we can go over to the bank to take of our business.   Let’s go shall we?”

“Sure.   Thank you, Grandpa.”

“Do you want to drive?”

I grinned and said, “You know I do, Grandpa!”

“Okay, let’s take the Lamborghini out for a spin!”

When I heard that I let out a yell, “Yahoo!!”

Grandma shouted from the sitting room, “What’s all the commotion about?”

Grandpa said, “Glenn is just excited to be driving the Lamborghini.”

Grandma said, “Glenn, you be careful with your Grandpa’s pride and joy.   Do you hear me?”

“Yes, Grandma, I will.”

Grandpa and I went out to the garage and he handed me the keys.   I didn’t open the car door at first.  I just caressed the door handle.   Finally, I got the courage to unlock the door and climbed into the driver’s seat.   Just sitting behind the wheel gave me goose bumps!!   I was actually going to drive a bright red Lamborghini Countach!!   I looked over at Grandpa.   I must have had a smile on my face that wouldn’t quit because Grandpa just laughed.

“If you handle this one okay, we can take the other one for a spin later today,” Grandpa said.

My eyes just about popped out of my head with surprise, “Another one?  Where?”

“It’s under the dust cover at the far end of the garage.  It’s a black Murcielago.   Everyone thinks that this is my favorite, since I drive it the most, but it’s really the Murcielago.”

“I’ve always dreamed of driving a Lamborghini.   I can’t wait to tell my cousin, Ben!  We used to spend a lot of time talking about cars and checking them out on the internet.”

I backed out of the garage and I drove us over to the bank where we signed some papers and I showed the notary my passport and social security card.   Grandpa thanked them for their assistance and we walked out to the car.   I drove us home.   After I parked the car, we sat in the car for a few minutes while Grandpa explained to me how the account was set up.   He had opened several bank accounts in my name:   checking, savings, and a credit line.   He showed me the balance of each account and explained he expected me to use the money wisely and to keep careful accounting of the money I spent.   When I saw the amount of money, I was totally stunned.   I had never seen so much money in one place before, let alone in my own bank account.   The tears started to run down my face.  Grandpa reached over and wiped the tears away.

“Don’t ever forget we love you, Glenn.   Money is just money.   It is you we care about.   We want you to be happy and to lead a successful life.   Money doesn’t do anyone any good if it is not used to help improve the lives of those around you.   Always remember people are always more important than money.   If you take care of the people part, you will always be happy.”

I gave Grandpa a great big hug as we walked back into the house.   Grandma smiled at us as we came into the sitting room.  “Did you take care of the finances?”

“Yes, dear, we did,” Grandpa replied.   “Now, Glenn, I believe your mother left a violin here.   Let me see if I remember where it is.”

Grandma said, “It’s next to the piano, dear.”

“I found it!   Thanks, dearest,” Grandpa said.   Turning to me with a smile he said, “I know that your mother has taught you how to play.  Would you play for us?”

“Yes, I would love to play something for you,” I said, smiling from ear to ear.   I love playing the violin and forgot to bring my own violin from home in all of the excitement of spending the summer with my grandparents.   I opened the violin case and saw the most beautiful instrument I’d ever seen.

“Wow!   This must be very expensive!” I exclaimed.

“Well, we bought two of them so your mother wouldn’t have to carry her violin home from school,” Grandpa said.   “The violin your mother has at your house is her favorite one.   This one never seemed to please her.   So it has been here with us ever since we bought it.  Why don’t you tune it up and try it out?”

I took the instrument out of the case and began tuning the strings.   Amazingly, it wasn’t very far out of tune.   I picked up the bow and tightened it.   I put the bow on the strings and played a few scales as I adjusted to the weight and feel of the instrument.   It had a sweet, mellow sound.   The higher notes simply flew from the strings singing as they went.   I was in heaven!  It was like the violin had been waiting for me to play it!   As I played a couple of my favorite musical pieces, they seemed to have an added dimension of sound I had never heard before.   I was totally in love!   I couldn’t understand how my mother had not fallen in love with this beautiful instrument!   I didn’t need any encouragement from my grandparents to continue playing.   Keith came into the room and sat down next to Grandpa.   His eyes were wide with wonder and surprise.  

As I finished playing, Keith said, “I didn’t know you played the violin!”

“I’ve played since I was old enough to hold a violin.   Mom insisted I start learning to play the violin and the piano.   She taught all of us to play.”

“Why don’t you play us something on the piano?”  Grandpa suggested.

“Okay,” I said as I put away the violin.   Keith lifted the lid of the baby grand piano and pulled out the seat for me.

“What do you want to hear?” I asked.

“Something classical,” Grandpa said.

I started playing some of my favorites while Grandpa closed his eyes and listened.   The piano had a good tone and sounded wonderful.   After nearly an hour of playing for them, the maid announced lunch was ready.   I closed the lid to the piano and got up and stretched.   Grandpa came over to me and gave me a big hug.

“Thank you for playing for me.   I have always loved hearing good music.  It lifts the soul and brings heaven a little closer.   You are welcome to play anytime you wish to play.   I am so proud of you!   Your mother has done an excellent job of raising you and teaching you to appreciate good music.”

“My dad did a good job, too.” I said.

“Yes, you are right about that.   I haven’t always seen eye to eye with your father on many things, but he has done a good job raising a fine family.  He has made your mother very happy.   There was a time I wasn’t so sure that would be the case,” Grandpa said.   “When you have a family of your own, you will understand no one is really good enough for your child.   But we have learned to trust our children and their judgment in choosing partners.”

We entered the dining room and sat down for lunch.   After saying grace, Grandpa and Grandma continued telling me about my mother and father.

“We met your father for the first time when we went up to Rochester, New York, to bring your mother home for Christmas.  He was at her apartment and was so nervous I almost burst out laughing,” Grandpa said.   “I’ve never thought of myself as scary but I must have appeared pretty formidable to him, at that time.  Your dad was a first year student in the engineering department and your mother was studying music.   They had met through mutual friends and had begun dating a few months before.” Grandpa said.

Grandma chimed in, “Well, you certainly weren’t very friendly.   You acted like someone had just stolen something from you!”

“Well, he had!   I could see she loved him the moment I saw them together on the couch.   I think he was totally unprepared for my invitation for him to come spend the holidays with us.   He didn’t say anything for the longest time!” Grandpa said, laughing at the memory of my dad’s reaction to his invitation.   “He finally stuttered he’d have to let his parents know there was a change of plans.   He was supposed to spend the holidays with his cousins in St. Catharines, Ontario.   So that was how we met your father for the first time.”

“Did you have the sports cars back then, too?” I asked.

“Yes, I did.   They weren’t the same ones but I had a Ferrari and a Porsche.   I still have them out in the garage.   I let your dad drive them just as I let you drive a couple of them.   He was just as thrilled about taking them out on the road as you were,” Grandpa said, smiling at the memory.

“Can we take the Lamborghini Murcielago out for a drive now?  Please, Grandpa?” I begged.

Grandpa laughed at my enthusiasm and said, “Yes, Glenn, and Keith can take a turn driving it as well.”

Keith’s grin was just as wide as mine was at the thought of driving such a fine car!   We both turned and sprinted for the door.

“I get to be first,” Keith shouted, as he bounded out the door and down the steps.  

“Not if I beat you there,” I yelled as I passed him at a dead run.   I managed to stay a few steps ahead of him as we ran into the garage.

“Okay, you win,” Keith conceded.   “But I get to drive it for twice as long as you since I have to wait”

“Deal,” I replied as we shook on it.

When Grandpa and I returned from driving the Murcielago, he tossed me the keys to the Countach and said, “Follow us into town.   I think we should stop and get an ice cream cone at my favorite ice cream parlor!”

I couldn’t believe Grandpa was letting me drive his Lamborghini all by myself!   It made me a little nervous at first but it didn’t take me long to get my confidence back as we picked up speed on the highway.   This is a dream come true!

I pulled in beside Keith at the ice cream shop.   Grandpa had already gone inside and left Keith holding the door open for me.   As I stepped past Keith, he said, “You are such a lucky dog!   Grandpa has never let me drive one his babies all by myself!”

“Maybe it’s because I am so much more handsome and mature than you,” I replied, with a great big grin.

Keith said, “And I’m a monkey’s uncle!   You aren’t any better than me, cousin, and you know it!”

“Just pulling your chain, dude.   Why don’t you ask Grandpa to let you drive home by yourself,” I suggested to Keith.

We stepped up behind Grandpa who turned and asked, “What do you boys want?”

Keith quickly said, “A hot fudge sundae with lots of whipped cream.”

“I’d like the same, Grandpa,” I said.

A few minutes later, we were all seated at table near the door, enjoying our sweet treat.

“Grandpa,” Keith said, “Can I drive the Countach back home?”

Grandpa looked up from his ice cream and smiled, “I wondered when you would get up the courage to ask me.   You know, I would have let you drive my sports cars sooner, if you had just asked me.”

Keith was all smiles.   “Thanks, Grandpa.   I wish I would have asked you a long time ago.  I’ve always wanted to drive your cars.”

I exchanged keys with Keith who hopped into the Countach and I climbed in beside Grandpa for the drive home.

Grandma greeted us as we entered the house, “Be quick and close the door so the heat won’t get inside.   So, how do you boys like driving those fancy sports cars?”

We both grinned from ear to ear with joy and said together, “It was wonderful!”

Keith and I spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool.   After dinner, I went back in the sitting room to play the piano, again, while Grandpa listened with his eyes closed.   Grandma and Keith played a game of cards.   Pretty soon Grandma said, “Look, your Grandpa has fallen asleep.   Keith, go get the pretty blue comforter out of the closet and put over your Grandpa.”

Keith moved to the hallway and retrieved the comforter and draped it over Grandpa.   Grandma guided Keith and I into the kitchen and served us pecan pie with a large helping of vanilla ice cream.   There is nothing more delicious than my Grandma’s pecan pie still warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream.   It was the end to the perfect day.   Keith and I retired to our rooms for the night after helping Grandma get Grandpa upstairs.

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