Sunday, January 6, 2019

Letter to My Grandfather

Dear Grandpa,

That's probably what I would have called you, had we met. As far as I know, I'm your only grandchild, and I think about you all the time. Especially lately. A couple of months ago someone asked me, "if you could have a conversation with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?" 

I said you. 

I have aaaaaaallllll the questions for you. What made you unafraid? Or were you actually secretly afraid constantly and pretending you weren't, like me? Why did you care about the things you cared about? What made you help start the labor movement? Even as you were being tried and convicted for sedition? And in prison all those years? What was it like there? 

Thanks to mom's research I only have the one letter you wrote to your mom and some history books, but that's not the same thing as talking to you obviously. Your mom clearly thought you were kind of a reckless nut job, but you'll be pleased to know that my mom (your daughter!) is totally on board with my reckless nut-jobbery.

You're very handsome in your mug shot, I must say. Like dude, you were kind of a ten! I wonder what you were thinking at the moment this picture was taken. It almost looks like you're laughing a little. I can see the fight in your eyes, and I know that little half-smile. It's a "fuck you, I'm playing long game three-dimensional chess, motherfuckers" smile. 

I see it in the mirror on my best days.

You would not even believe how stupid the world is now. Actually, you probably would. The President is a sadistic tire fire. The constitution is under attack and our whole democracy is in peril. Oh! And they hate us Jews again. Surprise! LOL! (That stands for Laugh Out Loud). Hating the Jews never goes out of style. If it's three things you can count on in this life, it's death, taxes, and anti-Semitism.

I think maybe you do know this, actually; even though I don't believe in God, an afterlife, spirits, or ghosts. (I bet you didn't believe in that stuff either). I want to believe in them, though, because when I do, I imagine you really are looking out for me and watching everything that's happening and telling me what to do next.

I cried a little on the chairlift today sitting next to Paige thinking about you. She asked if I was crying and I lied and said it was just the wind in my eyes. I bet they didn't have chairlifts in 1920s' Pennsylvania, just guessing. Paige is your great-granddaughter and she just turned 11. She's so cool. Like so much more well-adjusted than me. She makes me feel better about myself. I bet you would never imagine in a million years that you'd have a great-granddaughter who skis in Alaska. You barely even knew my mom because you died when she was a toddler and you didn't even get to meet Aunt Alexis. 

But I still feel like you know us. 

People tell me I'm a badass, but it's not true. I cry all the time under my weighted blanket, and feel like I totally fucked up my whole life just by banging pots and pans for what I think is right. 

People are so cold and mean, it's crazy. It's amazing the things people will do and say. The people and systems you think you can count on but can't. LOL. Look who I'm talking to. You totally know this already. I hope you're reading the shit people say on the internet and LOL'ing and exacting vengeance from above on all of my trolls.

Anyway, Grandpa, I wish you were here so I could tell you everything that's happening and ask you what I should do and how to stay strong in my convictions. If you could keep sending me signs, that'd be great.

Love,

Elizabeth




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