By Dan Morrison
On Sundays we’d drive across town to my grandpa’s house. He’d built it himself after some great war. There was still care there, but ever since my grandma had died things were slipping. Paint chipped, gutters leaked, and he had decided to use a broken TV as a TV stand because it was too heavy for any of us to move out. That’s where I learned football, how to play, all the rules, some strategy, and who to root for. That’s where I saw my first boob, during the Janet Jackson halftime show.
We’d go outside and play in the garden when the weather was warm. He grew the only tomatoes I ever liked eating, cucumbers, peppers, and he always had some experiments. That’s how I learned carrots need different soil than we had, but they still wouldn’t grow when he bought different dirt. None of that mattered compared to the blueberry bushes. Taller than any of us, he’d kept them since he built the house and I learned the summer calendar by how ripe they were.
After a while, my grandpa wouldn’t spend as much time in the garden, preferring to watch while we took care of the garden with our uncle who had moved back in. He always had an old lawn chair and radio to listen to Car Talk or the Red Sox.
One day he shouted at me and my brother. He wanted to know who the girls were. Over and over, “Who are those girls?” He broke down crying, shouting to know who those girls that we couldn’t see were.
My uncle came in and dragged him to bed. I heard his sleep apnea machine click on, but before my uncle came back we were sent outside to play. Through the open windows, I could hear them whisper, “What are we going to do about Dad?”
A few months later, I had to go to the emergency room. My ankle got rolled up on while I was playing football, and now I was on crutches waiting to get x-rays. As I bounced around the ER, looking to see whatever I could find, I noticed a figure lying on a bed. My grandpa. I went back, trying to find my Mom but by the time we got back, he was gone.
The funeral was a week later. It was small, he’d outlived most of his friends and family. A couple months after that they sold the house and I never went back there again, except to show a girlfriend that I’d brought home from college. As we drove by, I looked for those blueberry bushes. They’d be blooming soon, but they were gone.
Dan Morrison is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in English and a Letter of Specialization in Creative Writing. In the past Morrison’s work has been published in journals like The Green Light and Zoetic Press, among others.