Thursday, October 07, 2010

On My Grandfather

I have been thinking a lot about my Grandpa Mobley--my mother's father--lately. I'm not sure why. Part of it might be that, for various reasons, I have been noticing a lot of the things that both Zeke and I get from our grandfather. Little things, mostly, like quirks of phrasing, expressions, attitudes, dispositions toward certain topics, things like that. But those trivial things are just the outward evidence of what is actually a much deeper influence.

In fact, it has occurred to me that in order to fully understand me, and Zeke too, one would probably have to meet our grandfather. I'm fairly certain that a psychologist who was able to fully understand my grandfather would find it rather simple to pick apart my brother and me. However, that's assuming any psychologist could survive analyzing my grandfather without tearing out his or her hair. I find this an unlikely prospect, since I believe that what Freud said about the Irish is perfectly applicable to my grandfather: they are impossible to psychoanalyze.

Perhaps it is for this reason that, while I know I am in many ways very like my grandfather, and while I know that he is one of the people I look up to, respect, admire and wish to emulate the most in this entire world, I find it hard to pin down exactly what significant things I get from him. Perhaps it's like I say about certain authors who have come to influence my writing greatly: perhaps he has simply entered my heart and therefore my bloodstream and my very being at a microscopic level, so that he is simply a part of what I am, a part of the fabric of my very being. If there is any human goodness in me, it comes from my other grandfather, one of my grandmothers, my mom, my dad, or from him, from Grandpa Mobley.

The other day in Acting class, we were told as part of an exercise to walk like one of our grandparents--not like they actually walk, but as their personality would walk. I looked at my brother and knew he had also chosen to try to walk like Grandpa Mobley, whose personality is probably the hardest of any of our grandparents' to convey. For how do you express or embody someone who is a combination of George S. Patton, John Wayne, and the most dignified of Cherokee chiefs, someone who has utter confidence in himself, having done everything he ever set out to do, being completely satisfied with the life he has led, knowing how to be confident, comfortable, and at peace in almost any situation?

My grandfather flew airplanes in Europe during WWII; he spotted for artillery, doing a job that these days is done by satellites. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He flew General Patton repeatedly, was present for at least one incident that often makes it into the history books; he flew others, the likes of Churchill and possibly De Gaulle, and his dog used to play with Patton's dog. He met Ronald Reagan; he was an extra in the movies; he danced with Ingrid Bergman. He looks like John Wayne, too, and the feeling I get being in his presence is only replicated when I watch a John Wayne movie. But, did I have the chance to meet John Wayne, and General Patton, and Churchill and De Gaulle and dance with Ingrid Bergman, I'd trade it all for one evening with my grandfather.

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