by: Joelle Charbonneau
My father’s birthday was this past Monday. He passed away almost three years ago after a long battle with cancer. It sucks that he’s gone and I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss him.
I guess it isn’t surprising that my father’s birthday made me stop and think about the men that have influenced my life. My husband. My son. My father. My grandfather. All of them love(d) to laugh. My father and grandfather were very different types, but they both loved humor. So maybe they would be flattered that I have chosen to create very distinctive grandfather and father characters for Rebecca Robbins. Dad didn’t appear in the first book. In fact, unlike my father who was very much present in my life, Rebecca hasn’t seen her father in years. As for her grandfather, Pop – well, Pop loves life and laughing just as much as my grandfather did. Dare I say more? Here – let me show you what I mean:
Sprawled on the ground, Pop blinked up at me. “What happened?”
I helped him get into a sitting position while taking deep breaths to calm my panic. “You fainted.”
“Fainted?” Pop snorted. “I’ve never fainted in my life.”
The cantankerous sound of my grandfather’s voice did my heart good. Pop was okay. Knowing that, I was able to smile.
“Then what are you doing lying on the asphalt?” I asked, trying to hide my amusement.
Pop sputtered for a moment then announced, “It’s because of these damn pants.”
Pop struggled to get to his feet, and I helped haul him upright. Indignant, he said, “The women at the Center told me I had to wear tight pants in my Elvis act. Well, now I know why Elvis died so young. He probably hit is head after losing circulation in his . . . you know.”
I did know, and I would have been a lot happier if I didn’t. Thinking about my grandfather’s . . . well, it made me a whole lot more uncomfortable than the sweltering heat.
“Pop,” I said, deliberately averting my eyes as he adjusted the crotch of his pants. “While I would love nothing more than to blame your pants, they aren’t the reason you passed out.”
Pop blinked at me. “They’re not? Huh? You think it was the heat.”
“I think it was saying my father is coming to town.” Pop’s face went white. I took a step closer in case he went down again. “Look, Pop, it’s no wonder you’re upset. You and Stan don’t have the best relationship.”
Neither did I. Maybe it was genetic.
Pop shook his gnarled fist. “I want to kill the hairy little wart. The man deserves it for breaking you and your mother’s hearts. Heck, his coming to town is a good thing. Gives me a chance to get some of my friends together and rough him up.”
Something told me the septuagenarian Untouchables wasn’t going to scare Stanley Robbins, but what did I know. My father might have a fear of disgruntled old guys.
Smiling at the bizarre image of Pop in a zoot suit, I said, “You’re not going to rough up Stan.”
“Why? You want to do it?”
Tempting. Too bad I had to take the moral high ground.
“No,” I said with regret. My absentee father kind of deserved roughing up. “No one is going to touch him. In fact,” I added, hoping for once my father’s faithless personality hadn’t changed, “I doubt we even see him. When was the last time Stan actually did what he said he was going to do?”
Pop squinted into the sunlight, thinking about my words. “You’re right,” he said with a frown. “That man ain’t never going to set foot in this town. Too bad. I was starting to like the idea of giving him a good butt-whooping. A couple of kicks to the keister would knock some much needed sense into him.”
He straightened his shoulders and took a shuffling step down the sidewalk, content to leave the topic of my wayward father behind. Come to think of it, I was too. It was easier than dealing with the disappointment that always came along with Stan Robbins.
Looking back, Pop asked, “Are you coming?”
“To see Jimmy. I’d think you’d want to talk to him.” Pop smiled. “Seeing as how you’re the detective on his case.”
While writing Pop and Rebecca’s dad, Stan, doesn’t make me miss my own father and grandfather less, it does make me smile. I hope their antics in SKATING OVER THE LINE (Sept. 27th, 2011 EEEK!) make you smile, too!