There was this time. Mom made pancakes. They had real Aunt Jemima maple syrup on them. Dad’s dad was from Alabama. He came with his wife to visit in a Winnebago. They brought syrup with them, and grits too. I didn’t much like the grits but when he put egg yolks on them they tasted a lot better. Grandma chain smoked Virginia cigarettes while she stirred the grits and I swear I saw ashes fall in. She wasn’t the kind of woman you say that to though. Her mother was a seamstress in San Francisco so she was pretty cultural.
She hated Alabama and made sure Grandpa knew it. I don’t think she much liked it here either. But she liked the machines and the fancy pink Zinfandel wine they gave her for free at the Golden Phoenix. She always threatened she was going to run off with a millionaire. Grandpa didn’t seem to mind.
It felt like Mom was just tolerating them, she was always so tired when they came to town. But I loved it. They would buy me prizes from the gumball machines and let me go to the arcade sometimes when they were playing slots.
Once Grandpa won, I think it was a lot cause he gave me fifteen dollars to play video games with, I saved ten of it for a Walkman. But I didn’t tell him though.
It wasn’t just the stuff they gave me either it was just more fun to watch them then it was to watch mom. And of course, there was the breakfast.
After Dad left I never saw them again. Maybe they’re dead. Maybe Grandma ran away with a millionaire. Maybe Grandpa lives in his Winnebago, all alone somewhere in Alabama and eats pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup on them every morning, and grits with egg yolk.
That’s how I think of him.