I had the potential to know four grandfathers. I never met the fathers of either of my birthparents. One didn't want to be introduced and the other was struck by a car while on a walk one morning. That event occurred some years before I found my birthparents. On the adopted side, my amom's dad died of cancer a few years before I was born; I did get to know my adad's father.
His name was Jarvis---a name, believe it or not, he chose for himself. Apparently, his parents could not agree on a name for him when he was born, so they gave him the initials of "JV" only and decided that he could pick his own name when he was older. He was a WWII vet, having served in the army as a cook. I found out a few years ago that he had an injury during his service which resulted in him not being able to father any more children after my adad was born. I don't know the story that goes along with that and I'm not sure that it's the kind of thing one asks about. Anyway, he was a genial man, quick to remember the poems he had memorized in grade school, ready with a pun, and the most frightening set of driving skills imaginable.
I have been thinking about the lone grandfather today for two reasons. First of all, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers are playing tonight. This rivalry was the setting for the first NFL game I ever attended. It was at this time of year. We had just flown into Kansas City and I got to go with my adad and grandfather directly to the game. The three of us had a marvelous time, enjoying the crowd (and the rather colorful language they used) as much as the game itself.
As I mentioned, my grandfather was an army cook and cooking was something he enjoyed throughout his life. Every Christmas, he made a batch of fudge. I recently asked my grandmother if she had a copy of the recipe. Here is what she sent:
1 square chocolate
4 cups sugar
1 tall can PET milk
1/4 lb. butter
Cook until it forms soft ball
2 packages chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pt. jar marshmallow cream
1 cup nut meats
I have been trying some interpretations of this recipe the last few years. Things like "tall can" and "packages" are almost as vague as trying to know if the square of chocolate should be bittersweet or semi-sweet. Anyway, I do my best and then send a big box of the stuff to my grandmother. I just made the fudge this morning and the whole house smells like chocolate and sugar and all manner of other Christmas memories.
Tonight, I'll watch the game on tv, eat a piece of fudge, and make a toast to my grandfather. It's feeling more like Christmas all the time.