Until yesterday, I had only ever heard my grandfather use the term “…and stuff.” I was listening to a podcast and this man was explaining how he got his job distributing vacation brochures at the rest stop. “Well,” he said, “the guy who had the job before me got sick and stuff…” He continued, “He got the diabetes and stuff… and then he passed away and stuff…”
As I mentioned, my grandfather used the term quite frequently, but certainly not for the important things. He would have never “and stuff”-ed someone’s death.
He was a man of few words. He didn’t suffer fools. He said the things that needed to be said, and that was it. I think he used the term “and stuff,” not to be rude, but just to end the conversation already and get back to the things he deemed truly important.
I stood by the kitchen window, looking out at the barn. I couldn’t hear the exact words my mother was telling my grandfather. I was breathing so heavily, the wind that traveled from heart to nose to ears made a deafening sound. Of course I knew. We were going to be alone, my mother and I. She was scared. Hurt. Embarrassed even. So many feelings. So many words. He listened. Patiently. He was still overalled from the field, but I could see that he had washed his hands (and I could smell Grandma’s perfumed soap). His nails were scrubbed. I suppose he already knew. Knew that he would be holding my mother’s hand. Telling her, without words, that he would be there. For her.
He pulled me away from the window. Bent down. Looked me in the eyes. “You can turn in, or you can turn out…it’s all up to you.” There was no “and stuff.” No walking away from the conversation. He would be there. That was the promise we sat in. Silently.
I learned early on that you can walk away from the unnecessary, but not the uncomfortable. The real trick, I guess, is in knowing the difference. I’m still learning, but as I look out my kitchen window at the morning, I know days can be difficult, times even, but I am secure in the gift that of all things important, I am one.