Observations and Ramblings from a Cranky Old Guy

Written by on December 7, 2023

Observations and Ramblings from a Cranky Old Guy – by Jeff Spaulding.

This is a holiday story, with plot twists and turns. To begin with, I am a huge believer in fate, the concept that things are not always random, and perhaps our lives are pre-determined.

Thanksgiving weekend 1969. My father, mother and I were living in Loudonville. I was 13. My parents decided to travel to New Jersey for the weekend to visit my aunt (mom’s sister) and her very large family. Coming were my sister, 16 years older than me, and her husband of about 4 years. He was a great guy, more like a big brother to me. When we left, no one knew it would be the last adventure as a family.

Down to Jersey for a wonderful day. Despite the amazing family time, it was spoiled by my sister, who got stinking drunk and got into a knock down dragged-out fight with her husband.

Unfortunately, my sister was an alcoholic, among other things, it was not the first time we saw this behavior, nor was it the last.

Things calmed down, the next day back to the 518. That was Friday. The next day brought a major FU to the family.

Saturday afternoon, my dad (a two pack a day Camel smoker, a diabetic, and someone who had been in ill health his entire life) suddenly grabbed his chest. Mom calls for an ambulance and to the ER we go. My sister and her husband met us there. We were told my father had a big heart attack. By late afternoon the doctors told us he was in Intensive Care, but he was stable so we should go home and get some rest. I went to see him, and he said, “I’m doing ok Pal” (that was his name for me, oddly I call my grandsons by that name).

We went home to chill, about two hours later we got the call, get here now.

We didn’t make it, he had a series of heart attacks in a row, and they couldn’t stop them. At 54-56 years old (questionable records), my father was dead.

Fast forward to Christmas Eve that same year. There was no tree or decorations, naturally, but my mother got me a couple of presents, because that’s what mothers do. Still reeling from the loss of the patriarch of the family, my brother-in-law was most affected. He started to drink, really drink, something you really shouldn’t do after such a loss. The death hit him hard, and this mountain of a man had a breakdown, shaking and in tears. He grabs the car keys, barges out the door and yells “I’m going to see Pop.” He takes off like a bat out of hell, and in 1969, with the lack of technology as it was, we had no idea how to find him. We feared the worst.

Christmas morning, we found his car in the driveway. He’s hungover as hell, but safe. He and my sister make up as it were, we all thank God, and the two of them go home. This is where fate comes in. Shortly after Christmas, my sister announces she is pregnant, and come August (gee, isn’t that like nine months from Christmas?), their son, my new nephew, Scott is born. In my heart I believe that happened for a reason, it happened for a purpose, it happened because the brother-in-law didn’t wrap up his present to my sister that night. But that’s not the end of this story.

A few years ago, I was contacted by someone claiming to be my nephew Scott, now in his late 40’s, who was playing on Ancestry.com to connect the dots to the family. After some verification emails back and forth, I was convinced after all this time, he was the real deal (we all lost track of each other over the years, by this time, my mom, and Scott’s parents were all dead.) We arranged to meet, and had a tremendous time, seeing Scott, his wife, and a second cousin I didn’t know existed. What makes this very special to me is that I got MY family back, and I forgot what I missed after decades. I am whole again, I guess Peaches and Herb were right after all.

Be hearing you.


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