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When I was a child my grandfather said something to me that now showed new

meaning. My father was a drinker, not all the time but sometimes when he drank, he

drank to excess.

Though Darkness showed on occasion, he would generally be a happy,

embarrassing drunk. He had a low tolerance and it didn’t take much. One time at a family

holiday gathering of some sort at my grandparent’s, he got downright stinko.

My grandfather, my mother’s father, helped him to the den, covered him with a blanket. He was gentle where contempt might have been in order. They weren’t particularly close.

My grandfather was stoic, successful, strong; my father was none of those. I watched from the door, emotions of pride and shame in such close proximity. My grandfather shut the light, put his hand upon my shoulder and crouching down to look me in the eye, said, “Don’t be too hard, too quick to judge. When you’ve become a man and know the world a bit, then you may, if you choose to.”

We then went to the kitchen and ate ice cream, butter pecan, his favorite, just he

and I, and left the subject of men and their weaknesses behind.



Eli Stoneman is the author of The Girl in the Hat * A Fool’s Tale


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