"Pssshhhhhhhhh" He let the air seep from his mouth and shot a grin over to me in the passenger seat.
"Air brakes" he laughed.
I rolled my eyes, hiding my giggle inside, close to my heart but away from his-mainly because I was 13 and it was no longer cool to love your grandfather openly, but also because I'd heard the joke since I was a baby.
"I know Papa...air brakes. Funny." I looked out the window so he couldn't see my smile.
It did not matter where we were going, or why. All that mattered was that I was with him, and that he seemed to love me best. Grandfathers, I know, rarely play favorites, so perhaps I made it up-but his eyes lit up every time he saw me. And I made him laugh.
When there were too many of us to fit in one car-on holidays or special occasions-I'd ride with my Papa because no one else wanted to. Not because of his conversation, his race car like driving, or even his corny air brake joke-it was because he was a carpet cleaner.
And his car stunk.
Being someone who has an over active sense of smell, you would think that I would have been offended by the strong odor that permeated the air. But to me, it was just another comforting smell that reminded me of him. To this day, whenever I smell industrial stain remover, it reminds me of Jack, my blue eyed, joke telling, always laughing, Papa.
Looking for inspiration, I've found myself remembering our random times together-my Papa and I. I remember times when he sent me on hunts for treasure in the front yard of his house, always declaring the rock or scrawny twig I found was very valuable and rare. And I realize that what he was doing was feeding my sense of exploration and wonder.
And I remember the look on his face when he saw that I was sad because he was sick, and the twinkle in his eye when he smiled in spite of the pain, or regardless of his fear. And I realize that what he was doing, was teaching me that as long as you are smiling, you can get through anything.
My Papa was a great man, and even though he's been physically gone for 7 years, he continues to remind me of the lessons he taught me many years ago, when I was just a girl, hiding a smile from her Papa.
Originally written by me on Thursday September 21, 2006