Every year it’s the same thing. April 1 rolls around and I think of my grandfather, my mother’s father. April Fools Day was his birthday. If he were alive today, he would be 126 years old.
There are people in your life who play a role as savior. I’m a firm believer in the adage that you make your own chances. Some people may have certain advantages in terms of wealth that leads to an access to a first-rate education, or more important, contact with those who are blessed with insight and compassion, those who help shape the people we become.
In each and every case, though, it’s the individual whose actions yield the exceptional. At the end of the day, we look at ourselves in the mirror and there is only one person who looks back.
Then there are people like my grandfather. William Samuel Neath lived with us for three years. In a small room off the front door of my Aunt Gloria’s house that we were renting in the early 1960s. He was old and feeble then and I was a mere boy, sensitive and quiet. He did little more than lounge in his LazyBoy and smoke a pipe. For breakfast he drank tea and ate an orange that he’d first roll with the flat of his hand to better encourage the juice to flow from what counted for bulk citrus in Owen Sound, Ontario, in 1962.
On April Fools Day, Grampa would have me trace the scar from a wound he received in the Great War. Bone fragments had lodged in his forearm, and when I’d do as I was told and press the hard lump, his arm sprung up in mock salute and we’d laugh and laugh.
That thought always makes me smile. He is gone all these years, but in the days leading up to April Fools, I always pause to think of him. On that single day I convince myself that he too is looking back at me in the mirror, I resemble him now as much as I remember him then.
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