Going For A Family Ride

We’re going for a ride in
my grandfather’s car, me
and my grandfather on my
Dutch mother’s side — a

small man, five-six, small,
bald head, fairly big cal-
loused hands of the laborer
that he was, fingers fidget-

ing on the big, black steer-
ing wheel, black mustache
moving up and down and all
around as he moves his lips

and tongue as if he is just
cleaning up after lunch,
which he is not but is a
family trait I later observe

in my uncles. We have left
my father’s business on
Cottage Grove and a hundred
and eighth and I, an eight-

year-old, am nervous because
I know my grandfather is a
fast, reckless driver and I
wonder about my parents’

judgment. I hang on for dear
life. Finally, he drops me
off at our home on a hundred
and sixth and Normal. “Thanks,

gramps,” I say as I jump
to safety. I stand on the
curb and watch him drive down
the street toward his home,

his bald head shining in
the sun through the rear
window. I go in the house
and look at the photo of

my dad’s father, my Swedish
grandfather, whom I never
knew. He was tall, six-four,
thin with a thick head of

blond hair and pearcing,
blue eyes. Later, I ask
my father what kind of a
driver my grandfather was

and he said, “He always
took the bus, son.” I wish
I could have ridden on
the bus with him maybe

to the Museum of Science
and Industry and heard
his stories about the
old country instead of

fearing for my life.

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