My Grandpa G was Kielbasa King. He wore his title with honor, fed legions of firemen. Chief John, the Kielbasa King.
He was featured, I think, in the Detroit Free Press, or at least the Detroit News. Or maybe some neighborhood paper who put him on the cover.
Sometimes we kids would go down to his basement to watch grandpa’s art in action.
Little red meat chunks were swallowed by a grinder, then spit out as worms to be stuffed in cloudy tubing.
Grandpa laughed when he said they were intestines. He once fooled us, too, into eating corned beef by saying it was ham.
His hugs were so strong they nearly broke our backs. He’d encase us and wouldn’t let us go.
And then he dropped dead.
He was in his 60s. I was in my teens. I threw a tantrum on my bed.
Grandpa had been at my aunt’s house, standing at the stove. I want to think he was cooking kielbasa. Then he wasn’t standing.
A blood clot swam swiftly to his heart.
Strangers buzzed round at his funeral. They told me how much he loved me. I told them him being dead was wrong.
The day my grandpa died was the only time I saw my father cry.
I don’t know what terrified me more: grandpa’s sudden and unexpected death – or learning my dad was human.