Paula Alone with Her Grandpa

Paula Alone with Her Grandpa

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Paula Alone with Her Grandpa

The sixteen-year-old granddaughter arrived.

Alone.

Her dad, pink slip sweating in his hand,

Not unexpected, downsizing was air breathed,

He had hung on longer, but the timing was lousy.

The Florida trip was off right now.

Her mom wouldn’t go without him.

It was decided. Paula would fly

Alone.

Grandpa was not happy about all of that.

He didn’t know what to do with a teenager.

But they had always liked each other.

When Grandma was alive, she did the feelings.

Grandpa supplied the laughs and the money.

Girding himself for Paula, he missed his Sarah,

Alone.

“I want to go to the pool, Grandpa.

I brought four bathing suits.”

“You’re only going to be here four days,

So that should be enough.”

Grandpa rounded up the sunscreen

And the towels and waited for Paula.

And thought about Sarah, his swimmer.

Alone.

He wasn’t ready for Paula.

For how stunning this granddaughter was.

“That bathing suit fits you like

The designer knew you by your first name.

He certainly knew how beautiful you are.

Like Grandma was,” he added.

“Oh, Gramps, you old flatterer.

I got this one at Goodwill. Cheap.”

“You’re my kind of girl, Paula.

I could never see spending money

On clothes. No moving parts.

They’re nothing that needs fan belts.”

The sun burning like the heater

In a pickup truck, the cement steaming.

Paula turned a few polite heads,

And Grandpa proudly introduced his granddaughter.

“She’s not only beautiful,

but she’s smart, too.”

Paula dove into the water,

Her body knifed the water, splashless.

Alone.

Later, they cooked together,

He read her poetry while they ate,

And they watched “Jeopardy” side by side,

Decided with a little more practice

They’d try and get on the show,

Hell, they knew the answers.

The sun had made her sleepy,

She called home, laughed her private jokes,

Brushed her teeth, flossed, squeezed a blackhead,

And asked him to hold her hand and read her

A story, like he used to when she was little.

Alone.

Their second night together he asked

Her some brave questions, and she in turn

Asked him two big ones, her eyes hard on him.

“What is it like without Grandma, Gramps?

Are any widows nibbling at you? I sure would.”

At that, they both cried for a while,

Soft as petals falling from roses.

Grandpa found the first words out of tears.

“I may reach out for company, Paula,

maybe even for touch, it does get lonely.

But I know I will never find love.

I’ve had that with your Grandma.

You don’t get it twice.”

Alone.

The four days went faster than palmetto bugs

At midnight, and all the bathing suits

Got worn and admired. Paula made everyone think

About their youth and about love.

She was a tonic to the whole condominium.

We saw her Grandpa grow younger.

And we knew that when he got really old,

Paula would be here. She’d hold his

Hand and read him a story before he closed

his eyes on the night he would die.

Not alone.

Sidney B. Simon

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