June 30, 1980
When I arrived at the diner I had agreed to meet my grandmother at, I saw that she wasn’t there yet. I sat with a cup of coffee and waited for her. In 2010, I hadn’t really ever drank coffee, and hadn’t acquired the taste for it. In 1980, I had drank more coffee than the rest of my life combined up to that point, because I was trying to blend in. I’m not sure if the harsher, more bitter coffee was better or worse than what I had drank when I was younger, but the caffeine had definitely taken it’s hold on the appropriate receptors in my brain.
She came in, and walked over and sat down. Other than that first hug, we hadn’t ever hugged outside of her house. I had spent last week telling her about her grandkids, their names, and their individual interests and personalities. I had to pause frequently to allow her moments to absorb the information.
“I met a young man named, Scott, this weekend…” she said, knowing that I had purposely given her almost no information about him.
“Oh you did?” I said trying to keep a straight face, and not give anything away.
“Interesting, he had a similar halo in his eyes to what you have.” She smiled, and waited for me to confirm.
“He’s handsome!” She said with a little bit of pride.
“Yes, I know, I’ve heard that my whole life.” I tried not to sound too blasé about it, but she called me on it anyway.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” Her face was lit up with joy, which was infectious, and made me smile.
“Well, when a girl you have a crush on at 12 years old tells you that your father is ‘hot,’ it might make you slightly bitter.” I heard how ridiculous and childish I sounded, and it made me laugh at myself.
She shrugged, and said, “I suppose I can see that. But you’re handsome too.”
“So, he’s your father. He seemed nice.”
“He’s a good man, and I think, from what I have been told, you will end up liking him, but I don’t want to tell you too much about him, at least not too much about what you will naturally learn about him.”
A cup of coffee came over for her.
“Perhaps, we can take a break from hearing about family today? I felt so emotionally exhausted last week.” I had seen it on her face each day afterwards, but had continued because she had kept asking questions.
“Sure, what would you like to talk about instead?”
She shrugged. “Are you going to vote in November?” She asked, the Republican National Convention is only a couple weeks away, and it has been somewhat unavoidable in the news, and lawns.
I shook my head. “No, I know the outcome, and while I know my vote won’t matter, I don’t want to do anything that would risk history.”
“Who wins?” She asked with mild curiosity.
“Don’t you want to just let it surprise you?” I smile, not wanting to talk about politics with her.
“It’s Ronald Reagan right?” She asks curiously.
“Yeah. It is.”
She smiles, and I nod. My mom’s side of the family loves Reagan, a few of them were more enthusiastic about him than any politician that I was aware of during their political careers. By the time Reagan leaves office, little Michael Cole will only have just turned four, and won’t really be aware of politics until 1992, and the election of Bill Clinton. So while I had found it intriguing to watch this election building up, it wasn’t as exciting knowing the overall outcome, but not really having any of the real emotional attachment of someone who’d been here before January.
I spent the rest of the hour telling her about later in the week, I was going to fly down to Tallahassee and see Melanie. She had that excited look of a proud grandmother again, and it was the best feeling my heart had felt in months, maybe years. It wasn’t just the feeling of love, but the feeling of hope, and having someone else I could talk with.
My heart, even with Melanie’s affection, and Destiny’s friendship, had been starving, and this was the hearty homecooked meal that I needed to replenish me.
When it was time for me to go, I paid the bill, and walked with her out to our cars, and gave her a polite smile, and a handshake.
“Mike, I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“No.” I told her, and explained that I had a lot to do to get ready for my trip, and that I had to work a lot due to the holiday the supermarket was ramping up for customers.
“Assuming neither Amy or Julie are home, can I come over next week? I have a little personal project I need some help with.”
“Yes, just call first, and have a great time in Florida.” She got in her car and drove off.
I’m sitting in the parking lot at work, and saw my father driving around the back of the building in his delivery truck. He must be making an early delivery because of the holiday, because today isn’t his usual delivery day. That’s ok. I’ve gotta run into work now.