tagRomanceGrandpa and Me

Grandpa and Me

byCromagnonman©

I know that I announced a while ago that I probably would not be posting any more stories on this site, but a combination of factors has changed that decision. For the past couple of weeks, a story idea had been rattling around in my head that I couldn't get rid of. This, combined with weeks of cold, wet, and miserable weather, when I couldn't do any outside work, I found myself with time on my hands. What to do? This is the result. CM

*

I really don't know what I'm going to do about Grandpa, he seems to have found a new lease on life, which may not be such a bad thing. Yesterday I went to visit him at his modest unit in the retirement village, and he introduce me to this lady as his new best friend. Hell, it's been ten years since Grandma died and this is the first time that I had seen him take an interest in another woman, although I have to admit that he has good taste, she was a still attractive older woman.

This was the first time in the past six months since I had returned home and begun to visit him that he had been anything other than miserable about his incarceration, as he put it.

"I hope that you're looking after the place for me." He said to me as soon as I sat down in one of the lounge chairs. I have been living in his house while I worked on it to bring it up to its former glory so that my father could sell it.

"Sure, I've finished painting the interior and I'm just getting ready to attack the exterior. I'll have to hire a scissor lift to get up to the guttering and fascia."

"Just use a couple of step ladders and a plank, that's what I used to use." He had built the house himself and carried out all maintenance work up until he had to move into the village.

"But we have to think about Occ. Health and Safety, if I have an accident I won't be covered by insurance." This was a bugbear of his, the dumbing down of what tradesmen could and couldn't do to carry out their work. "There's another thing, the big shed in the back yard, I can't seem to find a key for it. I need to take a look and see what needs to be done to tidy it up. Dad said he didn't have the key."

"I wouldn't give it to him," the emphasis was on the 'him', "he has never shown an interest in any of my projects, so I didn't give him one. You on the other hand, should take a look, you might just be interested."

"What's in there?"

"You'll see. Next time you come, I'll give you the key so that you can check it out." We were interrupted by a knock on the door. "See who that is, if it's a good looking sheila let her in." I wondered why he didn't just give me the key there and then. I was soon to find out the reason. "I haven't got it on me, so I'll have to get my Lawyer to drop it in to me."

I opened the door to be confronted by two women, one who was probably about Grandpa's age, and the other around my age, was wearing the uniform of the nursing staff of this place. "It's not one but two good looking sheilas, shall I let them in?"

"I suppose so." He said in an offhand voice. Did he have something planned?

The younger woman held the elder's arm to support her while she walked into the room. As soon as they were inside, the older woman brushed the younger's hand away. "I'm quite capable of walking across the room. She strode purposefully across the intervening distance between her, and a now standing Grandpa, before stumbling into his arms.

"Dorothy, you did that deliberately." Grandpa said.

"Of course, and you loved it didn't you?"

"Now Grandma, you behave yourself." The nurse said.

"Why? I've behaved myself all of my life, I think that I'm entitled to misbehave for what little life I have left."

"You're incorrigible, do you know that?"

"Yes I do, and it's Harold here that incorriges me. Tell me Harold, who is this handsome young man?"

"This is my grandson Michael, you remember, I told you about him."

"That's right, I recall you telling me what a handsome man he had become. I can see the family resemblance." She turned to her grand-daughter. "Now Felicity, you had better run along before Michael sweeps you off your feet, just like his grand-father has swept me off mine."

I got the feeling that this whole encounter was not entirely accidental, that it had been carefully rehearsed. "Felicity, I get the impression that we are surplus to requirements here, can I buy you a coffee, or are you on duty?" I was giving her an out-clause if she wanted to use it.

"I think that I can trust you to behave in the staff dining room, come with me."

It was a short walk from Grandpa's unit to the dining room, but it was made longer by other staff wanting to talk with her, and the general tone of the conversation seemed to be; 'who was this man, and was he her brother and therefore available to them'.

"Is it a coincidence that you are working here?"

"Yes and no. While I was doing my nursing degree, I met this Med student and he heard of an opening here and convinced me that I should apply for it. Because I had visions of becoming a doctor's wife, I went along with the suggestion. But it didn't work out as I had planned, he used me to keep an eye on his grandmother, while he, as it turned out, was keeping an eye on a fellow Med student. I was shattered to find out that the fellow student was a male."

"Oops."

"Oops indeed. It was not long after this that Grandpa died and my Grandma came here. I stayed on to look after her, and I'm glad that I did. Do you realise that our grand-parents are behaving like a couple of school kids. The number of times that they have slipped away and we've had to send out a search party to find them in time for their meals and or meds."

"That explains a lot. I have been working in London and only arrived home six months ago. My father convinced me to hold off on a new job and concentrate on renovating Grandpa's home so that it can be sold. I had a lot of questions about the place that Dad either could not, or would not answer, so I started coming here to talk to Grandpa. I've come to appreciate what he has achieved in his life."

"By all accounts he has had an, let's just say, interesting life, at least that's what Grandma has told me. I don't know whether to believe her or not."

"I would say that you can believe her. From what I've managed to discover, you could say that it was interesting. He was forever embarking on projects based on an idea, which had nothing whatever to do with his regular job. Would you believe that some of them actually worked, and worked well? He has promised that tomorrow he will give me the key to his workshop and let me see what is in there."

"Any clues as to what's in there?"

"Not really, although I seem to remember when I was a kid, hearing the sound of a car engine coming from in the shed one day when we came calling."

"Maybe he was just repairing the family car."

"No, that wasn't it, the family car was parked in the carport."

"So are you going to check it out tomorrow?"

"You'd better believe it. As soon as I get the key from him I'll head straight home to check it out."

"Can I come too?" She sounded almost as excited as I was feeling.

"Sure, why not?" Have you ever thought, after you've offered an invitation under these circumstances; 'Why did I do that?', and then thought that if you hadn't, you'd ask yourself; 'Why didn't I do that.' I hoped that I wasn't going to regret my decision to invite her.

"What's with your grand-mother? She doesn't seem the type who'd be starving for male companionship."

"No, she never has, at least not until now. When she was younger there was never any shortage of men vying for her attention, but she only had one love, my grandpa. Don't get me wrong, she was confronted by temptation on a regular basis, but her answer was always the same; 'I am capable of loving only one man, and I am married to him. Thanks, but no thanks.' they got the message. What about your grand-father, from what I've heard, and what I've seen for myself, he has been fighting them off ever since he arrived here, but then he stopped fighting when Grandma came to live here, it's almost as if they have been waiting for each other."

"I'm surprised that he hasn't introduced her to me before today."

"I think that I can answer that, I believe that I have been primed for this occasion, I have been regaled with stories about how handsome you are, and how wonderful and thoughtful you are. She has been looking for a spark of interest from me, and that took some time to manifest itself following the devastation of having been passed over by doctor McDreamy for a bloke. I was in love big time and it knocked the wind from my sails, I can tell you. How about you, do you have a girlfriend, please say 'no', have you met the love of your life? Please say no."

"No and probably. I have had girlfriends on occasions but nothing serious. With a couple of them I thought that this was it, but it wasn't long before some annoying little habits began to appear, nothing major, just enough for me to question the long term viability for the relationship. As for the second question, let's just say that it looks promising."

"I consider myself warned, on the first and hopeful for the second." She looked closely into my eyes, as if she was hoping for an answer. "I'd better get back to work, what time will I see you in the morning?"

"I'll drop in around 9:30, that way I'll probably score a coffee when the staff do the rounds."

"Don't do that, I'm not on duty, but we can arrange to bring your grand-father and my grand-mother down to the dining room, that way we can get halfway decent coffee and maybe even cake."

I headed back to Grandpa's unit and was about to knock on his door when I heard him say to someone, presumably Dorothy, 'We shouldn't be doing this.' I hated to think what they were doing.

"Why not? There's no way I can get into trouble, not anymore that is."

"You're a wicked woman, do you know that?"

"And you wouldn't have it any other way." They both chuckled and I didn't have the heart to interrupt whatever it was that they were doing, so I went home.

I spent a restless night, my mind continually going over what had transpired during my visit to Grandpa. Had I really agreed to let a woman into my life? Had Grandpa really let a woman into his life? What would I find in the shed, amazing treasures or a pile of junk? Questions, questions, questions, all designed to deprive me of sleep, and none providing any answers. Try as I might, I could not free my mind of these questions until sheer exhaustion forced my body to over-rule my mind and allow sleep to take control.

I surfaced at around eight in the morning and it was a scramble into the shower, into my clothes, and swallow a cup of coffee before the mad dash to the retirement home and my fate.

"You look like shit, did you get any sleep at all?" Felicity asked as she intercepted me in the reception area.

"Yes, but it was too little, too late." I looked at her, out of uniform she was gorgeous.

She noticed me looking. "Benefit of make-up. I probably didn't get any more sleep than you. What is happening here? I think our grand-parents are conspiring to hook us up."

I smiled, these were my thoughts as well. "Is this such a bad thing? At least this way we can keep an eye on them. When I went back to say good-bye to Grandpa yesterday, the noises that I heard emanating from his room had a definite carnal note to them."

"I have the impression that the spark of physical attraction is not yet dead. I just hope that they know what they are doing."

I knocked on his door and Dorothy poked her head around it as she opened it. "God, look at the two of you, you haven't been playing up behind our backs, have you?"

"Grandma, how can you suggest such a thing?"

"Easy, he looks like death stoked up and you look as if you've used a trowel to apply your make-up."

"Well looks can be deceiving, we both spent the night in our individual and quite separate beds. There was no playing up happening at all."

"Why not?"

"Can we change the subject?" I said, needing to get the purpose of my visit back on track.

"Come on you two, we are taking you down to the dining room, we both need coffee and something to restore our blood sugar levels and you two need the exercise, although from what Michael told me he heard yesterday, I would hazard a guess that you have been getting some exercise of your own, of a carnal nature. You should be ashamed of yourselves, at your age."

"Hell girl, we aren't dead yet." She grabbed Grandpa in a bear hug and planted a decidedly non-platonic kiss on his un-resisting lips.

"Let's get you down to the dining room before you embarrass yourselves." Felicity told them.

"Since when did you become a prude?" Dorothy asked her.

"Enough! Let's go." Felicity ushered them out of the door and down the corridor to the dining room.

With the oldies safely seated at a table, Felicity and I headed for the buffet to get something to eat while our coffees were being brewed. "Grandpa likes cheesecake so I'll get him a slab, what are you and Dorothy having?"

"We'll have the same." We placed the slices on a tray and took them up to the counter. "Hi Fliss, fancy seeing you here on your day off, and I see that you have your new man in tow."

"Down girl. It is purely coincidental that Michael is with me. He called in to see Harold and I came to talk to Grandma, who just happened to be visiting Harold, there's nothing more to it than that," her voice took on a different tone, "but if I see you making a move on him it will not be pretty, and that goes for the rest of the girls."

"Gees, you really get steamed up for someone who just happened to bump into him."

I placed the coffees on the tray along with the cheesecake and we headed over to the table. Grandpa had a bunch of keys in his hand. "My Lawyer dropped these off yesterday arvo. This one is for the deadbolt on the side door." He held one of the keys up before moving to the next one on the ring. "There are no locks on the outside of the panel door, this key opens the deadbolt either side of the door. The button is the remote for the door. Take good care of these, they are the only ones that I have, if you lose them you won't be able to get in, and, more importantly, you won't be able to lock up behind you when you leave." He placed them in my hand and closed my fingers over them. "I'm trusting you with a large part of my life's work."

"Wow, way to put me under pressure."

"When you see what is in there you'll appreciate why I want you to take good care of it. Have a good look and come back tomorrow, we'll discuss what we are going to do with it."

What the 'it' was we were about to find out. I unlocked the door of my clunker of a car, at least it looked a clunker. I noticed Felicity looking at the ding (dent) in the passenger side front door. "That was courtesy of some clown in a shopping centre car park. I took it to a crash repairer and he placed his hand over his heart. I got the message that he thought it not worth repairing. He changed his mind when I started her up, she goes in next week to have a new second hand door fitted. I found one in a wreckers that's the same colour, sort of."

I pulled into the driveway and opened the side door of the shed. "Shit, this isn't want I was expecting."

"What were you expecting?"

"A shed full of stuff." I flicked a switch and the lights came on. The floor was devoid of clutter, only two objects were there. On one side of the shed, under a cover, was what looked to be a car, the like of which I had never seen, it sat low and wide, while on the other side was a yacht sitting on a trailer. The floor was covered by a thin layer of dust, as you would expect from being shut up for as long as it had. I opened the huge panel door and let the daylight flood in for the first time since Grandpa had left it. Against the wall next to the car were moulds for the fibreglass body panels, while on shelves stretching the rest of the way down that wall were an array of lights and other parts.

The Yacht was unlike any I had seen in boating magazines. It had bilge keels either side of a centre keel which meant that it stood upright on the trailer without the need for hull rollers to keep it on an even keel. The hull shape was unusual as well, it was wider than I would have expected for its length, it didn't taper much toward the stern, and there were two stainless steel frames to accommodate drop-in rudders, these were set at right angles to the hull angle, meaning that when she was heeled over one rudder would be vertical in the water. Mounted on the stern was an outboard motor.

"Did your grand-father make these?" Felicity asked in an awestruck voice.

"I believe that he did." On a workbench at the rear of the shed were cardboard tubes containing drawings. Spreading them, out I could see the development of both the car and the yacht from rough concepts through to the finished plans. He kept everything, even sketches of concepts that were eventually scrapped. There were finished plans for projects as yet unrealised, at least that's what I thought. I looked at them and in my mind I went through the process necessary to convert these drawings into finished projects.

"I know what you're thinking." Felicity said, her hand on my shoulder and her head disturbingly close to mine. "You're wondering if you have the time and the money to build these."

"Yes and no. I'm just scared that my father, if he gets wind of this, will force the sale of the car and the yacht, and destroy these drawings. I can't have that, it would break Grandpa's heart."

"But he can't sell any of this while your grandfather is still alive, can he?"

"He could apply for a competence hearing and have Grandpa declared incompetent to manage his life, especially if Grandpa decides that he wants to marry your grandmother."

"Getting ahead of yourself, aren't you?"

"You've seen them together, nothing would surprise me with those two." I had climbed onto the mudguard of the boat trailer and looked inside the yacht. "This is strange." I got down and went over to the work bench and spread the yacht plans out.

"What is it?"

"This yacht has a water ballast tank built into the frame. I wondered why there was a control valve sticking out of the bulkhead with a clear plastic tube going through the side of the hull. There are water inlet holes in the three keels to allow water to enter, and when the ballast tank is full, the valve is closed so that the tank stays full. In other water ballast yacht designs I've seen, the yacht is allowed to settle until it can't go any further, but this means that there is compressed air trapped at the top of the tank and the water is able to slosh around. This can cause the yacht to heel over more than expected with the bulk of the water on the leeward and not the windward side. This setup provides a greater balance. The valve is opened as the yacht is pulled from the water to allow air in and the water to drain out. This is clever. I'd love to take her out for a sail."

"Then why don't you ask Grandpa if we can?" Hold on, what's with this first person plural? Why was she inserting herself into my family by calling him 'Grandpa' as if he was hers already? Did I want this? Life was once more throwing up questions for which I didn't have a ready answer.

I decided to go with the flow until the answers came. "Sure, why not."

I walked over to the car and slowly removed the cover, more so that the shed wasn't filled with dust than any other reason. "My God, this is a thing of beauty." I was vocalising my immediate impression.

"It is, isn't it?" Felicity stood beside me and her hand reached out for mine. We stood there for I don't know how long, hand in hand and taking in the flowing lines of this magnificent thing.

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byCromagnonman© 10 comments/ 7722 views/ 11 favorites

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