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My GrandpaMy grandpa always wears a cowboy hat. Black with white stitching. Small brimmed. Like a little boy who rides around on a stick-horse. I considered him a Chicago-cowboy, if anything of the sort exists. He drives a big black van with a tire cover sporting white silouhettes of square dancers...you see, he was into the square dancing. I remember seeing the costumes on the rack near the play room. The big frilly skirts my grandma would wear next to the ruffled red shirts my grandpa donned. And I imagined them swinging each other around in circles, laughing and clapping on their knees.

My grandpa calls all girls Susie Bell and all boys George. I remember hearing him call out "Susie Bell!" and plopping down beside me and pinching my knee, forcing me to giggle and squirm. He'd yank on my pig tales and tell me that I have pretty blue eyes. He's sing my name (maiden...) "Penny Kline's a friend of mine, she's a big cry- baby all the time." and I'd roll my eyes and sigh. I now sing that song to my friends, like it or not.

My grandpa has piercing blue eyes that look right down into your soul. He'd ask a question and those blue eyes would demand a straight answer. No dilly-dallying either. Truth. Now.

My grandpa has a crooked nose. The bend like a river that makes a sharp turn. I always imagined that he was part Indian...or maybe just had some Indian friends who told him all their stories. They'd wrap the wool blanket around their shoulders, toke the peace pipe and speak of buffalo and dancing rain. Maybe he just had it broken in a bar fight. I never thought to ask.

My grandpa has a painting of chickens pecking at feed hanging in his kitchen. It was painted by my grandma and it's damned good. I don't even like paintings of chickens. In this same kitchen there is a little vase made of carnival glass holding silver spoons. I remember watching my grandparents take a spoon out of it to stir their coffees and wishing I was old enough to like coffee.

My grandpa admired my cadillac last time I saw him. And he smiled at me and said he remembered the last time he rode in one. 1967. He said he loved me. And I said it back as he walked away to nap.

My grandpa passed away this morning. I will miss him. But I am grateful for all the great memories I have of him.

Goodbye, George.