Love and Lettuce

I always thought my Grandpa on my mother’s side met my Grandma by selling knives to her door. I pictured him walking up her Minneapolis snowed cover steps and charming her into owning a twelve piece set of freshly sharpened utensils. His hair would be in the same crew cut it was for all of his life post-Navy and his natural salesmanship would win her over.

It turns out my memory deceives me or rather I heard a similar version of this as a child and spun the story in my head. Here I was, a grown woman, sitting like a little girl at the end of Grandma’s rocking chair on Christmas Eve being schooled on her original introduction to her expanded kitchen collection. My Grandpa, who I affectionately called Papa, was actually selling her a salad spinner—a drastically less dangerous device.

Some of my memory did serve me well, however. Papa did indeed sneak an invite into my Grandma’s apartment. She was working for Northwest Airlines at the time and happened to be home between jet-setting. Papa was undoubtedly onto another one of his “get rich quick” schemes, when he signed up for this door-to-door sales job. Grandma offered him tea or coffee and he drank her freshly permed hair in while making himself at home in her home.

After Papa made the sale, he invited Grandma to join him at his sister’s husband’s band’s show that night. She agreed, either because of him or because it turns out his sister was a former schoolmate of hers.

Papa was always one to get what he wanted, except for his lifetime goal of get rich schemes, which results always seemed to elude him. He tracked the Washington lottery numbers twice a week, noting in lined booked which numbers popped up more frequently. He always played the same numbers.

And while his years of trying to find a pattern in random order resulted in no earnings, he was great at finding a connection with people. Grandma, however, holds her emotions back and you are never quite sure what’s behind her eyes. Papa may very well have been the only person who found out.

After mere months of dating he proposed and within weeks they were married. They birthed five children and saw four grandchildren being raised. In retirement they volunteered full-time, helping Disabled American Veterans. They stayed married for fifty years until cancer did them part.

And Grandma, she still owns the salad mixer. But I don’t know what’s behind her brown eyes, except that Papa was the love of her life.

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