June 12, 1983
The Death Row Bodines have found a new place to practice. It was Dad’s idea. He has a gift for new ideas. Dad figured since Grandpa can’t hear as well as he used to, Rob’s band can practice in Grandpa’s basement without disturbing anybody.
I carried a heavy black speaker down the street to Grandpa’s basement. Rob carried his guitar around his shoulders. Rob’s arms were free.
“Do you want to carry your speaker?” I asked.
“Nope,” he answered.
Grandpa met us at his front door. He held the door open as we walked in. “To the basement, Soldiers.”
The other soldiers…I mean, the rest of the Death Row Bodines, showed up in their parents’ cars to unload a big box of wires and stuff, a drum set, more speakers, a bass guitar and a keyboard.
Once the Bodines were all plugged in, Grandpa’s basement became too loud for anyone to stand…anyone but Grandpa.
He and I sat at his dining room table surrounded by all his pictures. We both felt the floor, even the table vibrate with the noise. I pulled out my writing journal from my backpack and asked Grandpa if the noise hurt his ears.
“What noise?” he asked.
Yesterday, on the beach of Lake Michigan, Grandpa could hear the waves crashing from a far away ocean. Now he can’t hear the crashing sound of drums right underneath us.
It’s a gift,” I said.
“What gift?” Grandpa asked.
“Your gift,” I said, “left over from the war…the gift of silence.”
As I spoke, the black and white picture of the soldier on the beach moved just slightly as the dining room table vibrated to a bass guitar.
“Everybody has a gift,” said Grandpa.
I thought about that. “What’s my gift?” I asked as I recorded our words into my journal.
“That’s easy,” replied Grandpa. I looked at him and waited for the answer.
He just smiled and walked out of the dining room and into his kitchen. I guess he wants me to think about what my gift is.
Well…I play lots of sports. I am OK at each one. I don’t know that I am that good at any of them. I have played football. I have played baseball. I have played soccer. But I love hockey.
I love hockey more than anything…so far.
I know what I am not good at. I am not good at homework. Mom says that’s because I do too much sports and not enough homework. That’s not true. Something gets in the way of homework. But it is not any of my sports. Nosireebob.
I used to write every day for no reason…unless the reason was to avoid homework. I now have a better reason to write. I have a journal. I guess now my journal will get in the way of homework.
But writing is fun. My friends don’t understand, but writing is as much fun as scoring a touchdown, hitting a homerun, or even scoring a hat trick.
That’s easy to say since I have never scored a hat trick…or a touchdown…or hit a homerun.
Grandpa says lots of things…all of which I try to write down. I know that I have heard Grandpa say that in this world you have to be both good and lucky. I sure don’t know if I am lucky. I guess time will tell. But I know one thing is true, I am good at writing.
I guess that’s the answer. My gift is writing…writing everyday. I write all the time now that I have a journal. Yesireebob, I am so good at writing I go through more pencils than anyone in the whole wide world.
Grandpa says we are all good at something. We all have a gift. The way he explains it, some people know right away. Others don’t know what they were good at until they die. I’m not sure how that works.
Dad is good at bothering Mom. Mom is good at ignoring Dad. My sister is good at gymnastics. My big brother is good at playing the guitar and getting me to carry his stuff.
I am good at writing.
Grandpa is good at looking back on the world through his glass eye…and explaining it to me.
Grandpa walked back into his dining room. I announced, “I know what my gift is.”
“You do?” he replied.
“Yesireebob,” I said.
“Thank you,” Grandpa said with one good eye.
“For what?” I asked.
The Death Row Bodines continued to shake the pictures on the table just enough to make me think they had moved on their own. The pictures and I listened to Grandpa.
He said with a smile, “Thank you for your gift…for always reminding me of myself. But you knew that was your gift…didn’t you?”
I re-thought my gift.
“You did know that…right?” Grandpa asked.
“Yesireebob,” I said with two good eyes…and a smile.