Yesterday I was looking through some old photographs from when I was a kid and I came across a picture of me when I was a toddler sitting with my Papa Charlie. I thought about him off and on all day and I realized something that made me very sad. I’ve lost a lot of my memories of my Papa. He died when I was eight; he was the only grandparent I ever got to know. Everyone else died before I was born except for my maternal grandmother, but I have no memory of her. So I just wanted to take this opportunity to think about him and write down what I can about him while I still can, that way I’ll never be able to forget how amazing he was.
Me and Papa
I remember that he smelled good, even if I can’t remember what he smelled like. When I think about him I think of the colors red and brown. I’m not sure why.
I remember that he wasn’t a big man. He was short and very “furry”. He always wore collared shirts, the kind with the pocket on the chest.
I remember his nose. He had the biggest nose I had ever seen. I convinced myself that if I sat there long enough I could watch it grow, after all he had told me that it grew larger as he got older, and everyone knows that Papas never lie. I was terrified that someday my nose would be as big as his. It's not...yet. ;)
I remember him always asking me “Do you want to hear a dirty joke?” and everyone would grimace and I would of course say yes and his answer would always be “a pig…just fell in the mud!”
Whatever he cooked, it would be mixed together (for example baked beans and hamburger helper stewed together in a giant pot. yum yum - gag.) and whatever he cooked... "it"... would be "goulash". IT'S GOULASH; DON'T QUESTION IT! ;)
Instead of saying I'm going to beat your ass he said "I'm gon' beatdy ass!" Yeah, you go ahead and try to take that seriously.
I remember his lottery tickets and his circus peanuts and his caramels with the white centers. He was always good for a good sugar fix.
I know that he was German, and that his family came to the US and then he enlisted in the Army. I can't imagine having to see your countrymen, family, neighbors, your history cast in the shadow that he must have. I remember that he still had shrapnel in his shoulder from World War II. That if you pushed down on his shoulder blade you could sort of feel it, but he wouldn't talk about it.
I remember that when me and my cousins would play hide and go seek I would always hide at Papa’s and he would never, ever tell on me. I knew I was his favorite... well next to my brother, but whatever. :P
I can remember his record player that set on the table next to his bed and sitting outside his motel room watching the heat lightning. Mom always hated that. She thought we'd both be electrocuted, but she always exaggerated, and I always felt safe.
I just wish I could remember more.
Still, there's one thing I'll never forget: I love you, Papa.
Charles and Emily Vogt