Andes Mints

My Grandpa loved Andes Mints.

I am not sure if this is a fact that I actually remember or one of those fake memories that you think you truly remember for yourselves but really you have carefully crafted a fantasy of remembering because everyone tells you it is so. I don't think I have ever eaten an Andes Mint in front of my mother without her telling me that they were Grandpa's favorites and so naturally I cannot remember a time when I didn't know this.

As a matter of fact I have many treasured memories surrounding my Grandpa that I am not sure really happened.

I know he was creative and brilliant when it came to engineering and that he invented many things for my Grandma. New sprinkler systems, gadgets to make life easier that kind of thing. So of course I see him tinkering in the yard, on the carport, in the Florida room of their home in Tampa. I am not sure if he tinkered when I was alive or not, but in my mind he is wearing a short sleeved button up shirt, yellow I think.

I know that he used to babysit me when I was very little. I know that when it was nap time he would lay down with me and that he would fall asleep and I would get into mischief. I have heard the story of my parents arriving home to find me with cookies that I had retrieved for myself by climbing on the kitchen counters while my Grandpa napped. I can see myself in my Grandparent's kitchen shimming up onto the counter and poking around to find something yummy. I have spent many summers in that house and I have never been shy about climbing on counters no matter where we are. However, I am not sure if that 3 year old curly headed brunette eating Maria cookies in the kitchen is a real thought or an imagination .

I know my Grandpa taught me to spit orange seeds. There is a large orange tree in my Grandma's backyard and I know how good the oranges are and I know how to spit the seeds pretty far. What I don't know is if the picture of him and me standing in the backyard spitting seeds is real or solely in my mind.

I know that my Grandpa was a patient man. I know that I am a picker, which amounts to me being unable to leave any raised object on my skin or those close to me alone. C can vouch for this fact because I frequently make him bleed when I pick off a scab or something from his skin, C is also a patient man. My Grandpa would have liked him. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the tale about me sitting in Grandpa's lap and picking a mole off his arm (chest?) until he bled I would be a rich women. I can see myself sitting on his lap, this time his shirt is plaid, in the armchair that he always sat in, picking away. Is that a real remembrance? I will never know.

My Grandpa had Alzheimer's for over a decade before he passed away. In those years he slowly mentally left the family but in the solid memories that I have he is still there physically. He sat in his armchair watching TV during the day and he was wheeled to the table for meal times (the table was raised on bricks to accommodate his wheelchair = many stubbed Jen toes) he went with us to the beach in the summers when he could.

I have heard so many stories about what an amazing man my Grandpa was that I often feel cheated that I had so little coherent time with him that I must doubt my own memories.

However, I also love Andes Mints. I love the versatility of eating them. I can pop a whole one and let it melt, I can bite it into pieces like a little mouse, I can shave off slivers with my teeth and watch the striations of mint and chocolate reveal themselves.

And I know that I love Andes Mints because they were my Grandpa's favorite.


Katie said...

You are a beautiful writer and you amaze me. If only I was any good at art I'd say we could easily switch "professions".

I, too, wish I could more easily distinguish real memories from imagined ones. But you can still be sure that whatever it is you're picturing happened whether you're certain if it's your first hand memory or story. I mean, I can say with certainty you were climbing on counters stealing cookies and I definitely couldn't actually remember that. ;)

I miss Grandpa and I wish we'd both had more time with him. Still, take solace in the knowledge that your kids (and mine someday) will have their own amazing Grandpa. Dad is going to spoil them so much!

Love you.

Katie said...

(P.S.: I've just been sitting with your blog open forever because your music is amazing. Do you own this "Pony" song 'cause I love it!...?)

Anonymous said...

Jen, you know me, I do not spend that much time on the computer. So I decided to take a minute to catch up on your blog and Kate's. I was really touched by your recollections and love and found myself reading through the tears streaming down my face. Thanks for the memories. Love you, Mama

Anonymous said...

This blog so touched my heart... my grandfather was my hero, a huge part of my childhood and my young adult life. He passed early on in my high school career and I miss him so much. I have the same kinds of fond and loving memories you do, ones that I've been told so many times I feel like I remember them all for myself. And then there are some that I DO remember for myself. Grandfather's are such a special and precious part of life! Side bar: I absolutely LOVE Andes Mints. ;)
-Jennifer (Markling) Rachubinski

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading all of your blog postings, but this one is exceptional. The remembrance of your grandfather is beautiful. I read it crying at the love that shines through. Your grandpa was creative and I miss him. I sent it on to Joanne, my father, Kenneth & Pilar, and some of your gradpa's cousins. Love, Barbara