Purchase has a literary magazine called "The Submission," to which, during the zenith of my life, I submitted several stories, all rejected. Reading a few of the stories that did make it in, I realized that they meant 'submission' in more of the Islamic sense. So I took a deep breath, wrote the kind of story the Submission habitually accepted, and graduated before I sent them this story. But they totally would have lapped it up so who cares. After the "jump" is the first ever public printing of "My Sad Grandmother."
I had a long talk with Grandma after Grandpa’s funeral. Ever since I was just a little one on her son’s knee we’d sit by the fire in the apartment she and my grandpa got when they first came to America. “In old country,” she told me with her warm Austrian drawl, “We never say it is the end when we die, but our life is just continued by who still lives.”
Grandpa died on New Years Eve, 1999, when I was ten. Dad always told me and Grandma that he was meant to spend the new millennium in heaven, mit Gott. I believed Dad...
For a while.
Grandma’s bright blue eyes never faded from my memory. They gazed at me with a tender strength as we talked in front of the fire that snowy New York afternoon. “You only need to love him still,” she said, “What would make you think any differently of your grandfather just because he’s underground?” That Grandma always did have a blunt streak.
People often seem to consider the German tongue one full of anger or imperative, but to me it always seemed like a grandma-language; not exactly beautiful, but pleasant, warm, and comfortable.
When Grandpa was still alive, he drank Almdudler, that most honeyed of draughts. I’ve only seen the drink sold in Austria, it being the national drink, but he got it imported whenever he had the money for shipping. Grandma and Grandpa were never well off, especially after World War II, when they were displaced from their hometown, Kuchl, and had nowhere but Camp Herzl to live for half a decade. They worked from the ground up ever since they crossed the Atlantic in 1950 when my Dad was just a little one on Grandpa’s knee.
This Grandma taught me that day. She was right, I thought while I listened to what I never knew about Grandpa, about how your feelings and relationship surrounding a deceased loved one have no reason to change post-mortem.
After Grandma died, in 2005, I started drinking. I always saw her eyes, watching me the way only a grandmother could, and I wanted to see them again, just once for real. That is, unless I made myself drunk. Then I wouldn’t want to see anything.
La Muerte Te Espera Con Numerosos Dientes Afilados