My paternal grandfather was a meticulous man. I’m not sure if he was this way because he was a doctor or he was naturally very neat and orderly. In 1973, two years before my little brother was born, my grandfather a.k.a. Grandpa, came to live with us. I was old enough to remember watching him line up his comb, brush, toothbrush and after shave in the bathroom. His bedroom was clutter-free with only a picture of my grandmother on the nightstand and his clock. His bed was made as tidy as a midshipman's at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He had very nice clothes made only from real materials like wool, cotton and silk. Nothing blended or synthetic. His shoes were always shiny and looked like they just came out of the box. His hair was never out of place and his English was extremely perfect. Almost too perfect. He spoke seven languages fluently. I remember I could never just tell him a story. The tenses and pronouns had to be 100% correct or else I’d get a lecture. For a six year old, that sucked. But I knew back in high school that I would credit my grandfather for my writing skills and my awareness of proper grammar.
In today’s world, my Grandpa would have been referred to as a "Manny" because he watched my brother and I during the day while both parents worked. Grandpa would wake up at the crack of dawn every day. He would take care of his hygiene and get dressed even if we were staying home. He would drink a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, do all of his morning chores and then he’d settle down with a cigar or pipe and turn on the TV. I remember watching "Perry Mason" and "Days of Our Lives." I also knew there was a good chance that my grandfather would laugh if any of his favorite comedy shows were on TV. He had a thunderous laugh and if something was really funny, he would slap his knee. Since I was only six or seven years old, a lot of the sitcom humor went over my head. Instead, I would laugh because it was funny to watch a refined gentleman lose his cool over Lucile Ball eating all those chocolates coming out on the conveyor belt. When "The Three Stooges", "Gomer Pyle", "Dennis the Menace" and "I Love Lucy" were on TV, Grandpa would laugh so hard he would have to pull a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe his eyes.
As Father’s Day approaches these memories of my Grandpa have surfaced. I’m pretty sure it has something to do the movie, "The Intern", which even though it came out in 2015, we finally watched it on the plane ride back from LA this weekend. The movie stars Robert De Niro portraying the main character Ben, the seventy year old intern. When the camera pans over Ben’s impeccable closet, his non-digital alarm clocks and especially the scene when he unloads his well organized brief case to set up his well organized desk, I knew even before he started as the intern that I was going to like Ben. The character of Ben reminded me of Grandpa - formal and precise at times but he was also honorable, respected and caring. Another reason why I liked the movie is because Ben shared some tips with his millennial co-workers and one of the tips was about handkerchiefs. He told a male co-worker that “hankies are an essential accessory because one never knows when a woman will need one.” Ben also shared that the best thing about handkerchiefs is that they are meant to be given away - they are not meant to be returned. In other words, carrying around a clean, unused handkerchief for others to use (and keep) is thoughtful and generous. Hankies are thoughtful pinches!
When I was going thru my “ hard-core-save-the-earth” phase I wanted my family to only use handkerchiefs. Facial tissue does not compost or breakdown like toilet paper, napkins or paper towels so therefore, I believe a handkerchief is a tiny but perfect solution to some of our landfill problems. In this day and age when everything is disposable, I am hoping you’ll join me in making handkerchiefs trendy again.
Circling back to my Grandpa. My Grandpa continued to live with us until he passed away in 1988. I wish someone video taped him pulling out his handkerchief to wipe his eyes after a good LOL session. It’s the best memory I have of him and I’m grateful for the many times that he used that hanky.