2002-11-16 - 3:05 p.m.
I was driving down the road today on my way to work when I caught up to some slow old man who was driving in front of me doing 25 in a 45. I wanted to pass him but I thought that would be disrespectful, so I drove patiently behind him for about a mile and a half until he finally turned. I was in no hurry anyway, after all, I was only going to work.
The last time I saw my grandpa alive was Christmas '99, but the last time we actually hung out together alone was that Thanksgiving weekend when I was home from college. My grandfather and I were close, I guess you could call him my first roommate since I lived with him in my parents' upstairs apartment from the time I was 12 until 20. He was the best damn alarm clock I ever had too, especially on mornings I was hungover(He often woke me up on weekends in a graveled tone "Time to get up little buddy"). His voice could make Tom Waits' sound like a member of the Viena Boys Choir.
I came home on the Monday before Thanksgiving, because I had to drive to Rhode Island on Tuesday to pick up my girlfriend. My grandfather knew he had cancer, knew it was terminal and inoperable, but pushed on anyway. That tuesday morning before my ten hour drive across the entire state of New York and Connecticut, he asked me as I was packing if I felt like getting some breakfast. He even said he'd drive . . . and I could tell he really wanted to just get the hell out and do something I said, "alright gramps, lets go." He drove us to a small diner about five miles from our house. We sat, chowed on some food, talked about my life and college and girlfriends and how he thought I would be the first one to have a child, not my older brother, and how he was happy to see that I was happy. He even paid for the breakfast, saying he wanted to because he never really did all that much for us kids anyway. We drove back from the diner to our house, I think it was about 8 in the morning or so. Anyway, some young kid was driving behind us and my Grandpa was doing about 40 in a 55. The kid was being impatient, maybe because he was late for school or maybe because all young people are in a hurry to go no where fast, but he did something that really pissed me off. He starting to tailgate my grandpa's car and started laying on his horn, non-stop. I turned around after about ten seconds and flipped him off. He stopped, but the first opportunity he had to pass us he did, and he flipped off me and my grandfather. My grandpa got flusterd and called the kid a "god damn knuckelhead." I said "you see grandpa, that's the problem with kids today, they're all assholes." He just laughed and told me he was an asshole once, too.
I did not know at the time my grandpa had cancer. I just knew he was sick. He had a heart attack and some breathing problems and that's all I knew. I eventually did find out during my Christmas break . . . which made my final visit with Grandpa much more bittersweet. But I gues that's another story.
Today, I thought about that day in November back in 1999 and was full of complete and absolute and utter satisfaction that some old guy was in front of me driving 20 miles below the speed limit. He made me think about one of the finer moments of this meager existence I call "my life."
I said it once this week and I'll say it again, "Thank you to the old guy driving slow. I sure did appreciate it."