A non fiction short story I wrote in 2007. Never published because I didn't know how to do that sort of thing back then. If anyone has any suggestions on where a good place for it would be I'm open
  1. My grandfather died when I was 5 years old. We were as close as a young boy and a cigar chomping old man with a bad heart and a new lease on life could be. I think part of the reason that I was so close to him at the time was because my dad was so rough and distant then.
    I was kind of a shy withdrawn kid and he would just sort of force things on me and get upset when I disagreed or didn't like something.
  2. I remember there was a snowfall in 1981 that went up past my waist and closed down school. I had all these ideas about building tunnels in the snow and hiding my action figures in there and pretending they were on a recon mission. Or, I just thought about hiding in the tunnels like when I didn't want to come in to eat right away or do my homework.
  3. The snow melted a little bit the next day and I guess I was playing outside in the front yard of our little house in Hampton, Virginia when my dad came outside and asked me if I wanted him to make me a snowman.
    Well of course I did - for a little kid like me, having an awesome snow man in your front yard was just as much a source of pride as it would have been if we ever had any good Christmas lights strewn up for people to see. I loved those big Christmas decorations other people had, with the lights, and the Santa’s on the roof, and the Merry Christmas signs lit up with neon lights. They never ceased to make me smile.
  4. I was really surprised then, that my dad would volunteer to do something like this. I didn’t see much of him back then, he was so busy working at the train yard until dark every day. I remember seeing him most often at dinner, or spanking me for something.
    He never acted with any patience around me, often growing frustrated that I was sometimes slow to comprehend his instructions or couldn’t do it exactly like he showed me. At those times, he would often drop what he was doing and walk away, leaving me wondering what I had done wrong.
  5. From inside the house he saw me playing in the snow, and came outside carrying a snow shovel, quickly going to work piling the snow around him into a giant mass that approximated a snowman. Another minute later, and he was finished.
    To top it off, he laid his John Deer hat on top of this large pile of snow which didn’t look much like any snowman I’d ever seen; then he turned and looked at me and asked me if I liked it.
  6. I was too confused and scared to vocalize my feelings about how I wanted to make a snowman with him like I’d seen on television, where dads and their sons roll snow into a huge ball to make the torso, then 2 smaller balls for the head and upper body, and then maybe a carrot for a nose. You know, like what a snowman should look like.
  7. After a moment’s deliberation, I slowly shook my head “no”.
  8. Like a firestorm he barged over to the “snowman” and violently kicked it over, stomped on it, strode back inside the house, opened the door, looked back at me one more time and followed by a tremendous slam of the door said, “That’s why nobody likes you.”
  9. I was too stunned to breathe for a second and the force of the door slam and his sudden exclamation seemed to knock the wind out of me. I didn’t feel like I could do anything right around him.
  10. I don’t know what happened next. Probably I just stood there and cried for a while. The next thing I remember was some kids coming over looking at the destroyed snowman and marveling at all the packed snow that was perfect for snowballs. I couldn’t enjoy throwing snowballs with them so I left and went inside.
  11. Before the snow appeared I was 4 years old and my little brother was too young to go to school which was fine with me because it meant that I didn’t have to share my grandfather Frank with him on the occasional times that he would come to pick me up for a visit at the end of a school day.
  12. He would pull up beside me in his little Chevrolet pickup, which likely was used for moving vegetables to his roadside stand, and then his seemingly granite-like, impassive face would melt into a smile as he would bend over, cane at his side, to await me rushing into his arms.
    He always came bearing treats that I loved, like jellybeans and circus peanuts, and took a perverse pleasure in spoiling me at home with sliced hot dogs and honey, knowing that my mom would never feed me food like that at home.
  13. He had a full size wooden swing set in his yard and I loved to rock in it and tilt my head up to the sky, to smell the air, see the leaves tumbling about, and tree branches swaying, and birds flitting from branch to branch, and feel the wind blowing on my face.
    Sometimes my grandpa would come outside and setup a folding chair in front of me so he could sit down and push the swing back and forth with his cane. I would call out to him then.
  14. "Pop swing me high like a bird!"
  15. And as I rocked back and forth, quicker and quicker, until he grew tired, I was so happy.
  16. After the snow melted, my parents told me that Pop Frank had died in his front yard, and presumably (I thought) on the way to sit down in his folding chair in front of the swing set.
  17. I don’t remember how I took the news. I’m sure I was crushed flat. All I remember is by then I had convinced myself that my dad wanted me to be tough, and then he would be proud of me so when it came time to leave for his funeral, I told them that I wasn’t going.
    I’m sure my parents thought it was because I couldn’t stand the pain of seeing his coffin and thinking about him in a box, but it was really because I didn’t want my dad to see me cry.
  18. In fact, I told myself that I was never going to cry again.
  19. Postscript
    (This hangs on my wall today. They got the words wrong but the feeling right)