This story is based on true events. It was written to honor my Grandfather, John Wojahn.
The only thing I could think about on my way up to Tawas was my grandparents. I hadn’t seen either one in the five years I had been in the army overseas, so it will be nice to see them again. But things had changed. Grandpa’s health was growing worse. He had developed prostate cancer and had to have a catheter put in. My mom had to help Grandma take care of him at night, which meant a long drive to Tawas every evening when she got off work; only to turn around the next morning and go back to Saginaw to go to work again. It was hard on her, but she did it because she loved her dad very much. It was hard to see him grow old. He used to be so full of energy and spunk. As a little girl with blond pig tails, I used to play with him all the time. It seemed like only yesterday that I was sitting on his lap taking the tickle test.
“Come here, Jill. Ya didn’t take the test yet,” said Grandpa.
“I don’t want to take the test. It tickles,” I replied.
“You’re eight years old. You can take it. Come on.”
I sat up on his lap and put my arms high above my head. He took his big finger and buzzed my neck under my ears on both sides. When I didn’t giggle, he moved to my arm pits and slowly moved his finger just above them to tease me. Then he sang his usual chant.
“Tweedle dee, tweedle dum, if ya don’t laugh soon, I’ll get you in your tum tum.” The last two words brought his large hand down on my belly, tickling me endlessly.
“Ha ha ha ha, Grandpa stop, ha ha ha ha, that tickles, ha ha ha.”
“He stopped and said, “Ya didn’t pass.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Cause ya giggled.”
“But I’m s’posed ta giggle, Grandpa, ‘specially when I get tickled.”
He gave me a hug, and I said, “Grandpa, you’ll never die. You’ll live always.”
“Oh, I’ll die someday.”
“No, because God knows how much we love you, so he won’t take you away.”
All he did was smile, a smile that I still think about even now, twenty years later at the age of twenty-eight. As I headed north on U.S. 23 just five miles north of Au Gres, Lake Huron smiled at me on my right. I rolled down the windows on both sides and took in the fresh summer air. The sun danced over the lake, leaving sun crystals sparkling on the water. The sky was ice blue with poufy puffs of clouds floating in the distance. Trees stood commandingly on both sides of the highway, hiding the cottages by the lake, demanding privacy.
As I drew up on Tawas Bay twenty miles later, the beauty of it sang out to me. There were no trees, just turquoise water with one foot waves rolling in toward the blankets of sand on the beach. Boats of all kinds lay buoyant, basking in the sun as it met the water. Now I know why Grandma and Grandpa chose to live up here. They’re so lucky to have this scene to look at every day.
(To Be Continued)