I have a standing date on Friday afternoons. Friday because I get off work early every week. It's not a date I have to get dressed up for or nervous about. I don't even have to leave the house. I push the send button on my phone and dial up my grandpa.
Sometimes he's home and sometimes no one answers. But I try and call every week if I can. Grandma is usually at work or teaching at Kids Club. And Grandpa and I just chat. Sometimes it's only for a few minutes, but sometimes we get going and talk for a long time. We talk about him growing up on the farm and the things they used to eat back then. We talk about the tricks he played on his city-slicker cousins when they came to town. We talk about his polio and how he was the victim of some of the worst kind of bullying I've ever heard of. We talk about how he met Grandma and their early years of marriage nearly 60 years ago, I think.
He tells me that back in the day growing up on the farm he knew how to fix all kinds of car problems. Ladies' nylons could replace a fan belt in a pinch. If a steering tire went flat, you'd switch it out with a rear tire till you got it replaced. And Purex laundry detergent was the go-to traction device if you got your tire stuck.
Last week, I got to spent a short afternoon visiting in person with Grandpa. He has a new toy. A John Deere Gator. The polio Grandpa had as a child never did make it easy for him to get around. But his new toy sure does help when he wants to get out and check the mail on the old farm road where he lives, or to haul fire wood when he needs it. Even though temperatures barely reached above freezing, Grandpa took me for a spin in the Gator.
It's easy to see that even in the cold, I gave the Gator a thumbs up. I may have to skip Friday phone calls more often in favor of road trips and rides on country roads with Grandpa.