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  • Grandad was held together with baling wire and twine: tape on his glasses, patches on his overalls, frayed places in his straw hats.

    He had a talent for finding Indian arrowheads and four-leaf clovers, owned a pink and black DeSoto with fins that he drove to church at a top speed of 20 miles per hour. ("Let mom drive!" we'd shout. "She goes really fast!") He understood that little kids never meant to get in trouble, and many days he and I would sit with the hired man and share his sugar cookies. (A long time later, I found out from his daughter that he always brought extras for me.)

    Most nights after dinner, he'd hoist me up on his lap and read poetry to me. Not the classics, just poetry he loved -- sometimes silly, sometimes sad.

    We'd sit there at the old oak table for a long time, trapped in the amber light, me resting my head against his chest, snuggled in his arms while he held the book.

    Our favorite was "I Had But Fifty Cents," the woeful tale of a guy who took his girl to the restaurant, a list of what she ate, and the narrator's complete inability to confess that he only had 50 cents. To this day, given some time and thought, I can recite almost the whole poem from memory, even after 50 years.

    I loved the rumble of his voice deep in his chest, the strength of his arm around my back, the taste of the honey-thick light in the night kitchen.

    He died when I was 9 1/2. I will never stop missing him.
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