Monday, April 14, 2014

Grandfather B on the telephone

It used to be that when Grandfather Bartholow would telephone our house and ask for Dad, if I answered the call he simply wouldn’t respond to me. Me: “Hello?” Grandfather B: “Is Jack there?” Me: “Hello, Grandfather! This is Thomas. No, Dad isn't around now, but if—” Grandfather B: Click. Sometimes, just before the click, I could catch that he said “oh” in a mild grunt, not to me but just into the air while he was already setting down the receiver. He lacked any feel for social talk, and took negligible interest in other people for their own sake. And he appeared to believe that, whatever his aim was in wanting to talk to Dad, it did not possibly concern anyone else. Communication of even trivial matters was handled on a need to know basis. And my wish to talk to him? It seemed as if no sensation could impinge on him when it fell athwart his intended business, not even a word from one of his grandchildren. One of my cousins mentioned to me that Grandfather B actually frightened him. I was never frightened, but I did come to feel a kind of awe of Grandfather as a paterfamilias out of an earlier century, an atavism in whose presence I would from time to time find myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment