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Bubble Gum in Disguise

By Georgiann Baldino

Published by Pearl Editions, LLC at Smashwords

Copyright Georgiann Baldino

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Bubble Gum in Disguise

Grandpa Blom didn’t belong inside the house. He’d rather be outside. Even when confined to an easy chair, his hands and eyes kept working. He was an elfin man, small stature and twinkling eyes. By the time I knew him, he could no longer stand up straight. Years of hard labor had perpetually bent him over. His legs formed a pronounced arch. To walk his body twisted at the hips throwing one leg then the other, rather like forcing a wishbone to amble across a table.

I have one treasured photograph of him taken near the end of his life, which shows him seated on someone’s front porch. The barrel-shaped wicker chair swallows him up, but his smile couldn’t be more complete. His whole face is involved. Hard to imagine how he could keep smiling like that after life had broken his body down. Even his grin shows wear and tear, for the teeth that remained were only nubs. Though he smiled readily and often I distrusted him. His “baby teeth” seemed out of place on someone his age.

Grandpa Blom died in 1955 when I was a preschooler, but over the years I have often thought about this picturesque man, who provided my earliest childhood memory. I’ve reconstructed the rest, building up his legend by talking to people who knew him. My mother reinforced my toddler images of him, laughing about my confrontations with Grandpa. He made light of everything, you see, and even at age four I took myself very seriously. Even then I doubted his veracity. The shakiness of his gait didn’t fool me; here was a man eager to make trouble.

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