My grandmother’s death came with no fanfare. There was no funeral, no ceremony of any kind. If anything, I believe she was relieved when she died because she was in a tremendous amount of pain.
My brother came to visit and offer his support to our grandfather who was bedridden do to his own maladies. For whatever reason, my brother was greeted with hostility. “Look at him,” my grandfather sneered. “He thinks he’s better than me.” Both my brother and I had no idea how to respond.
My brother and I drove my uncle to see the site in a military graveyard where my grandparents would be buried. My uncle was a bit of bum who had lived most of his life on a boat where he fished and grew pot. He was drinking a beer in the back seat and telling tales of his days with the Eskimos.
“An Eskimo honey on my left. An Eskimo honey on my right. That’s the way to keep warm,” he burped. Then he said he had to pee like a racehorse. My brother said he would pull over to the nearest spot, but my uncle wouldn’t have it.
“But I need to get gas anyway,” my brother tried to insist as he rounded the corner into a station.
“Just let me unpack my tallywhacker,” my uncle said, and we could hear the hollow metallic sound of him urinating into his empty beer can.
A week or so later I got a late night all. My uncle was drunk and hysterical. My grandfather needed to be taken to the hospital immediately. So I drove out in the middle of the night to take them both to the hospital.
After we lifted my grandfather into the backseat, He began to yell at my uncle. “Nuthin but a lousy drunk!” he chastised. My uncle was clearly embarrassed by the whole thing, and I was left to wonder just how safe my grandfather was under his care.
Once we got to the hospital and my grandfather was settled in, my uncle sent me away saying he could get a ride home. I tried to stay with him, but he would not have it. All my life, since I had known him, I always felt like my uncle was hiding something.
A few days later, I came to check up on my grandfather. He was laying stiffly in bed. His eyes were damp. His skin was pale. He had a faraway look on his face. It seemed like death was only a matter of time.
“I’ll leave you alone,” my uncle said with no feeling.
I smiled to my grandfather, not knowing what to say.
“You don’t have to worry about us grandpa,” I said lamely. “We’ll be okay.” Tears streamed down his cheeks. His lips trembled but he did not speak.
“I love you grandpa,” I said and touched his hand.
Afterward my uncle pulled me aside saying he had something to show me. I could smell the stench of beer on his breath. He took me upstairs to the spare room and pulled a box out from under the bed. He opened it carefully and took out a handful of gold and silver coins. He handed me one. It was nestled into a small plastic sleeve. A dollar amount was printed on a sticker. $1,598.53. He showed me another. $572.86. And another. $1,754.98.
“I’m fucking rich!” he bellowed. The box was filled to the brim with coins. I knew my grandfather like to horde money, but I really had no idea. My uncle With his scraggly beard, his persistent BO, and his drunken drawl could not help but make me think of a pirate and his precious treasure chest. It was a disturbing image, all things considered.
The night my grandfather died, my uncle called me. He sounded more drunk than I ever remember. Much of what he said made no sense. He alternated between painful wailing cries and hysterical fits of laughter. “There’s a buncha women suckin my dick!” he squealed.
Then: “They’re dead! They’re dead! Oh Go they’re dead!”
Then: “I’m rich! I gonna buy me a brand new boat and sail my ass to French Polynesia and marry an island girl and have a bunch of rugrats!”
Then: “I’m gonna die! I don’t know what to do! What do I do without them?!”
Then: “Man you’re wife has the biggest damn tits, so fucking nice. I just wanna-”
“I don’t wanna here that,” I said angrily and hung up.
My uncle was right about one thing. With the death of his parents, he was richer than he had ever been in life. He had never worked an honest job and now he was set for life with a monthly trust fund, a half million dollar home, five cars including two Mercedes, and his treasure box of gold and silver coins.
As for me, I had enough of his drunkien raving.
And I haven’t really talked to him since.