I am remembering my grandfather, Giddo Mike. My mother’s father. A wiry man, maybe an inch taller than I am, gentle (to me), gruff and indestructible. He loved gardening and golf. He raised a family in Belize, and then he and my grandmother moved to Orlando when the children were grown.
When I was little he built me a bicycle out of parts and I rode it for years, until I outgrew it. He would pick mangoes and starfruit from his trees for me and my sister. My memories of him are a mix of my own stories and the stories of my parents; my dad, for instance, tells how Giddo didn’t approve of him and stopped speaking to my mother after they were married. Then one day there was a knock on their door, and when they opened it, Giddo stood there with a full bag of groceries in each arm. I was just passing by, he said, and Dad laughs, remembering. It’s a four-hour drive from Orlando to Tallahassee, where we were living, Dad says. I was just passing by.
David met Giddo in 2002, in Belize at my cousin’s wedding. My two-year-old son toddled up to Giddo Mike, craned his neck way back, and said, You’re a really tall man, thereby securing himself in his great-grandfather’s good graces forever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone grin so big as Giddo did just then. He took David’s hand and they walked around looking at turtles in the fountain and little blue crabs along the driveway.
My indestructible Giddo passed away peacefully yesterday morning at the age of 88.
As-salamu alaykum, Giddo.