My Grandfather

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I only have faint memories of my grandfather.
I know he was raised in an italian family tied to the mob.
I know he was a strict soul that  demanded what he earned.
I know he smelled like Old Spice from the first day I can remember.
He was sturdy and stocky, build to take a beating like a true immigrant.
He slicked his hair to the side and dressed sharply.
He always guaranteed the truth would find you, for better or worse.
I know  that he loved me and would come up from Virginia to see me
eight times a year. My grandmother only came up twice a year.
I know he would take me to Mcdonalds the first moment he had.
He would pick me up and set me on his knee to rock me like a
bull rider happily fighting for his life.  I know my mom was really
shaken when he passed away.  I was five and remember that moment.
For all the strength my grandfather instilled on my mother couldn’t
stop her from putting on the wet works.  He raised her as if she
was military bound, yet she loved the man.  She could never
leave the dinner table without eating all of her food, and she
resented him for it.  But she still loved him enough to cry for years to come.
And for as little as I knew him, why do I slick my hair to the side like him?
Why do I make sure I don’t leave the table without eating all my food?
Why do I still drive my restaurants in my hometown twenty years later
and see his shadow in the window?  I can still smell his musk
like he just walked into the house to pick me up into the expanses
of the sky.  I loved a man who was harsher than anyone I had ever known.
Memories seem to build an indestructibly perfect picture of a much less
perfect soul.

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