Monday, January 13, 2020

Green Tea, VapoRub, and Grandpa

I'm sick, and I've been thinking a lot about my Grandpa Paul lately.  Not because he was sick. In fact, I don't ever remember him being sick, even at the end of his life.

No, I've been thinking about him because I'm drinking hot tea for my throat, and he was the only person I knew growing up who drank tea all day long.

He had this coffee mug that was probably a bright shade of "sunshine-y yellow" when it was new, but my memory of it is being faded with tea stains down the sides.  He would heat up his water in the microwave, and he even used his tea bags more than once.  Probably due to the fact that he was a little boy during The Great Depression.  Or maybe using them twice makes a unique flavor?  I don't know.  For me, tea has always been medicinal.

Grandpa Paul also had this giant book of "home remedies" on his book shelf. He would tell us things like, "rub Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of your feet, put on socks, and go to bed."  Or he would encourage you to squeeze really hard in that fleshy spot between your thumb and pointer finger if you had a headache or a toothache.

It's amazing what you remember about a person after they die.

I wish I would have taken more time to ask him questions about his life growing up.  Most of what I know, I feel like I learned accidentally. For example, sometimes when we'd be eating candy bars or another special treat, he'd reminisce that he and his siblings used to eat lard smeared on bread for a snack. "If we were lucky, we'd get to sprinkle a little sugar on it."

That always made me gag a little, probably because "lard" is kind of a gross word.

I also remember how he'd always make time to sit and color with us at the kitchen table.  My Grandma told me once that he never had crayons growing up, which probably explains he was always buying us fresh crayolas to use at his house.

It's odd, because I don't really wish he was still here.  The last time I saw him back in the fall of 2015, I told him that I was expecting my second child.  He smiled, but I'm not sure he really understood. If he was still here today, I know that it's pretty likely he wouldn't remember who I was at all.

But right now, as I'm staring into my tea and struggling to breathe through my nose... I guess I just wish I could hear him tell me to put VapoRub on my feet one more time.