12.09.2013

Elephant Ears


You always believed I would take the world by storm.

Awkward, meek little me, with oversize glasses and a notebook hugged against a skinny body.

You opened your arms and smiled, and after our bear hug, you tugged gently at the ears that were too big for my head. "You've got lucky elephant ears," you said.

"What does that mean?" I knew your answer by heart, but this was a ritual between us, you and I, and you happily obliged.

"It means that you're a very, very smart girl, and that you'll be very, very successful."

And you would pull out a bag of Werther's Originals, your favorite, and I would open a candy wrapper for you and you would open a candy wrapper for me and all would be right with the world.

You asked me about school over a box of Chips Ahoy - the chewy chocolate chip kind, my favorite - as I dunked cookies into milk until they broke apart, sinking to the bottom of the glass in a soggy, sugary sediment.

Whatever worries I confessed, you nodded your wise, gray head and promised that all would be well. I would get a A in math (no matter what Daddy said); that boy would like me (how could he not?); and that friend would invite me to her birthday party (even though she had left me out of the last one).

Of your seven beloved grandchildren, I was the only girl, the princess, the favorite.

Everything I did was perfect and right in your eyes. You laughed at everything I said, took my side against Mom, and bought me whatever I looked at.

Some men are born to be girls' dads and some are born to be boys' dads, and mine was the latter, too often absorbed in his sons to bother much with a lowly daughter. But to you, I was something special. You were the only one who bothered to look for the flame inside me, to cup your hands around its fragile light and protect it from the wind.

I told you I wanted to write books, and you never belittled or scolded or bent down the corners of your mouth, the way they all did. You just told me that I could do whatever I wanted, because I was your precious Elephant Ears and I was born into this world to be somebody.

You believed, even before I did, that those journals I scribbled in when I was supposed to be studying fractions would amount to something. You had exchanged wealth and consequence for a mere middle-class existence in this strange land across the sea, and damn it, you had done it for me, so that I could succeed.

Even now, when no phone or letter could ever reach you, still I think of you tugging my ears when I'm feeling low and it reminds me of our heart-to-hearts over cookies and milk. It reminds me that you always thought my dreams were worthwhile, and it gives me hope that you'd be proud of who I am today.

Whatever happens from here on out, I promise I'll keep tugging my lucky elephant ears in your honor.

Love and miss you, Grandpa.

24 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I'm sure you'll always be his princess.

Nicole said...

Grandpas are irreplacable! What a beautiful tribute to yours.

Natalie Murphy said...

Beautiful.

Tiana Smith said...

This was so sweet Julie.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Very lovely. I miss my grandpa, too.

Cynthia said...

That's a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. And how wonderful it is that you had such a great cheerleader in your life.

Cynthia said...

That's a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. And how wonderful it is that you had such a great cheerleader in your life.

Cynthia said...

That's a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. And how wonderful it is that you had such a great cheerleader in your life.

linda said...

Awww... such a lovely post.

Jemi Fraser said...

So beautiful! I hope we can all be to someone the kind of person your grandfather was to you. How very special he was

*hugs*

Laura Marcella said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your grandpa. What a wonderful man who was so proud of you. You're lucky to have had him in your life! Hope you're having a good week, Julie!

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

workofheart09 said...

Oh, Julie, this is beautiful. I could feel your love for your grandfather and his for you -- and at the same time, it also made me think of my dear grandparents, all of whom have passed away, and it filled my heart with such love for them. We are so lucky to have these amazing, special people in our lives. I like to think they're looking down on us and smiling. :)

Donna Hole said...

That was warm and well written Julie.

......dhole

Margo Berendsen said...

He believed in you... we need people like that in our lives and it's hard when they leave.

Margo Berendsen said...

He believed in you... we need people like that in our lives and it's hard when they leave.

DL Hammons said...

What a special, special relationship. I never had that with any of my grandparents, which is why I take special efforts to see that it does happen (or at least has a chance) with my own children.

I'm happy you had that!

LD Masterson said...

Lovely. How lucky for you both to have had that special bond.

Julie Dao said...

Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments! He was quite the grandpa.

Medeia Sharif said...

This is a beautiful post, Julie. It's wonderful that you had a Grandpa like him on your side.

The Songbirds said...

Bonjour Julie from sunny France, I've been introduced to your blog courtesy of the lovely DL Hammons and Blog Blitz. This is the first time I've been moved to comment on a BB suggestion, your writing is lovely and this piece is beautiful, touching without straying into the overly sentimental. Many congratulations on your success so far, and very best wishes for your future, which I'm sure will be bright!

melissajanda said...

When you think about it, it’s quite rare for people to see aspiring writers for who they really are. They say it’s a pipe dream, a silly hobby that will never pay off. They often want to slap a different label on us and tell us that we should pursue another more tangible goal. You are so blessed to have a grandfather who not only recognized your talent and the desire of your heart, but encouraged it. He may be gone, but for you— the writer who captured the essence of his spirit in this story—he will live on. He was right to encourage you.

melissajanda said...

I was so moved by your story, I forgot to wish a Happy Blitz Day :-)

Julie Dao said...

Thank you so much for your kind and lovely words :)

Songbirds: Thanks for visiting my blog and participating in my blitz! Glad you enjoyed this post :)

Melissa: I'm not sure why writing is not respected more, and is only looked upon as a silly dream. I agree! Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I hope he's proud of me, no matter what happens.

Hien said...

This was so touching. He no doubt is so proud of you! Keep pushing, Julie. Those who can't follow their own true selves love to belittle and say "you can't..." - pay no attention. No one can steal your fire or talent. Big things in store for you girl!

 
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