The World’s Fastest 95 Year-Old Man

One of these days I am going to take the various posts I have about my grandparents, print them out and put them into a folder. It is on that giant list of things that have to be done. I’ll get to it. No, really I will.

My grandmothers have gotten short shrift on this blog. There is an awful lot that could be said about them and I have been negligent about sharing it. In part it is because I spent more time with my grandfathers than my grandmothers, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t play a very large role in my life.

Not long before I got married Grandpa Jack took me aside offer some friendly advice. He looked at me and said something to effect of “You’ll never find anyone who can make you happier or more irritated than a woman.”

With a smile on his face he told me that I should always squirrel away a couple of bucks for myself. Just some kick around cash that I could have for myself. I remember smiling and nodding my head.

My other grandfather had similar advice. He was more specific. “When you get married you and your wife are going to have different ideas about how to spend your money. Take a few bucks from each paycheck and save it. Eventually you’ll have enough to do something with. Don’t forget to get her something too.”

With that comment he got more than a nod and a smile. When I was five he promised to buy me a pony. My mother was not pleased about this. She didn’t like seeing him tease me, or anyone for that matter.

As I have mentioned to my mother many times, it didn’t bother me. I can’t remember a time where I was upset about not having a pony. However, in the gulp, 34 years since his promise I have had my own share of fun with him about my pony.

Last week was the latest example. I told him that I had a way for him to make the whole pony thing up to me. He laughed and asked me to give him the details.

“Grandpa, you just turned 94.”
“You’re math is bad, I am in my 95th year.

“You’re right. What did Lincoln say at Gettysburg.”
“Ok smartass, what is your idea.”

“Grandpa, you used to tell me that when you were a kid you were really fast. You said that you used to win the 100 yard dash.”
“It is true. I did.”

“Good. It is time for you to go back to your roots. You’re going to start training.”
“Oh, I am.”

“Yes, I am going to promote you as the world’s fastest 95 year-old man. Nike, Reebok, one of these companies will be happy to spend millions of dollars on a nice ad campaign.”

“And you plan on taking a few of those bucks.”
“Absolutely. If we do this right by the time I am 50 I can retire.”

Giggling he said, “This is all because of the pony, isn’t it.”
“Yep. That pony could have been the next Seabiscuit.”

This is the point at which my grandmother entered the conversation. Instead of taking engaging the two of us in our silly fantasy she began to chastise my grandfather for making such a foolish promise. And thus I learned that not only had my mother yelled at my grandfather for making such a promise, but my grandmother had as well.

I interrupted her and told her that it was ok and tried to reassure her that I wasn’t upset. It didn’t work. It is funny. Over the years many people have remarked that my grandfather is a real character, but they missed seeing that in many ways the power in that relationship lay with my grandma.

For five minutes she laid into him. Finally he barked back and was rewarded with the sort of glare that would send most of us out for flowers. And then as quickly as the storm had started it was over.

I don’t really know what happened, but he walked over and they shared a moment. Yet again I felt like a bit of an intruder. I don’t know if they are more conscious of their age, but these sorts of moments seem to be happening more often.

A moment or two passed and I looked at my grandfather and said “for a moment there I bet that you really wished that you were the world’s fastest 95 year old man.”

He laughed again and told me that he wanted to show me something on his cane. I laughed and told him that his grandson wasn’t a fool. He smiled and asked for the remote. I handed it to him. He turned on the television and within moments he and my grandma were both asleep on the couch…holding hands.

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