My Grandfather's Minivan

I can still remember my grandfather’s minivan with vivid detail. Gray were the interiors and gray was the outside, although the painting was blue. How come? He never washed that old Voyager. Coated in dust like a breaded chicken breast prior to frying, that minivan took me and many others to magical places. Several were the hours that I would be crammed into the vehicle, together with my grandmother and cousins, like a bunch of pool balls squeezed perfectly into place in their rack. As the youngest, I would always seat in the third row, next to a heavy toolbox and a rusty can of WD-40, but a whole different thing it was when I was riding alone with my grandpa. I was the king. Riding shotgun, windows down, stereo all the way up, cranking hours and hours of what seemed as archaic music to me. Little did I know that this “archaic” music (AKA “jazz”) would become one of my favorite later in life. Somewhere in the messy central console, located between the two front seats, my grandfather always kept a glass (usually a red Solo cup) a bottle of Coke and a bottle of Appleton State, his favorite rum. Punctuality was one of his main traits, and as the punctual man he was, he would arrive 30 minutes earlier to any place he had to go. He figured he rather wait, turn the engine off, lay back in his seat and play some jazz while sipping on more than just one glass of rum with Coke instead of being in a rush. So it was not a surprise when I got out of school and I found him waiting (or sometimes even sleeping) in the parking lot, engine off, music up, glass full. Some days he would even bring me a bottle of juice, a ball cap and sunglasses to impress the ladies on my way out of the parking lot. Some other days we would drive to the beach and eat some shrimp, fresh and ready to peel. The Chrysler van then would take us to the shore, where we would park it and walk along the breakwater, all the way to the end of it, where the lighthouse stands. Time flew and we all got older, the minivan included. 83 years old, my grandfather was still driving that old, rusty, dirty and battered Voyager. The rear bumper had completely fallen off, one wheel did not match the other three and the seats were no longer seats, but racks for tools, buckets and machinery he kept hauling back and forth to the beach, to work in the construction of his beach house. The car seemed to have been through war, but no, it just had been through my grandfather’s life.    

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Dedicated to my grandfather Rubén Marrufo, who died at age 83 this last June. His memory will never be forgotten, let alone all those great times in that old Chrysler Voyager.

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Everything I know...I know...I learned from children's books

One day I ran to Grandpa
And I looked into his ear.
“Mommy says you’re pretty smart
Do you keep your brains in here?”

Oh, It’s too dark. I can’t see a thing
I don’t know what to do.
Grandpa is there any way
I’ll be as smart as you?”

Grandpa set me on his lap.
He gave my hand a squeeze.
“The wisdom you are seeking, Billy
Can be found in all of these.”

He pointed to his bookshelf and said,
“Billy..take a look.”
“Everything I know..I know
I learned from children’s books.”

By listening to or reading the words
Or inspecting the pictures drawn
Oh...the wondrous things that I have seen
And the places I have gone. 

I’ve been to worlds where strange things happen.
I’ve seen animals dance and sing.
I’ve known fairies and dragons and pirates
And Princesses and Kings.

I’ve been to Africa with a curious monkey
On a bear hunt under the pines
Rescued from a well in China
And to France with Madeline

Along the way, everywhere I went
My imagination has been churned
And I’ll be glad to share with you
Some...of the things that I have learned:

I’ve learned about the weather,
From Freddy, he’s a frog. 
I’ve seen a cold and snowy day 
I’ve seen it raining cat’s and dogs

It seems I’ve learned so many things
I was not taught in school
Like what happens when my teacher’s missing,
And that Wimpy kids are cool.

I learned some girls like to be fancy,
That there are alphabets in my soups
I learned it’s okay to wear the color pink
And that everybody poops.

I learned about dragons, they love tacos,
I visited the Wild Things land
I learned that when I’m nervous or scared
I have my kissing hand.

I learned the beauty of inventing words
Like this one...maple surple
I watched as a boy named Harold drew the moon
And I learned nothing rhymes with purple.

Dr. Seuss taught me colors and counting
I played a game with his Cat in the Hat
His Lorax taught me ecology 
Now what do you think about that?

I’ve learned meatballs can fall from the sky
And when you’re in a jam
What’s the best thing you can give yourself... eggs and ham.

Amelia Bedelia taught me how to think
She takes things so literally.
I’ve learned of joy and tenderness
Under the Giving Tree.

I learned to watch the world around me
From a poky little pup
While a little engine and a steam shovel
Taught me never to give up.

I’ve learned that love and tolerance
Are what matters in the end.
I’ve learned a lion and a mouse or a spider and a pig
Can be the best of friends.

I’ve learned an express train takes you to Santa.
That a reindeer’s nose can glow.
I’ve learned a frosty snowman can come alive
And a Grinch’s heart can grow

I’ve learned not to give a mouse a cookie
It causes too much of a fuss
I’ve learned that cows can type, bears like honey   
And not to let pigeons drive the bus.

I’ve learned gentleness from a bull,
Integrity from a bat
And that one bear can be big and brown
While another wears a hat.

I’ve learned fish can come in rainbow colors
That a wolf can huff and puff
I’ve learned a caterpillar can be hungry
And Billy Goats can be gruff.

I’ve learned to wake up in the morning with a smile.
I’ve learned to sing a happy tune
I’ve learned to think of be nice
And say good night to the moon.

As I grew up it didn’t stop
How my learning did expand
As I followed a rabbit down a hole 
And flew to Neverland.

I learned about life on the Mississippi
Watching a young boy and Indian flee
I learned about kindred spirits
In a town called Avonlea. 

I learned from wizards, witches and Hobbits 
From creatures big and small
That goodness wins out in the end
And there’s magic in us all.

“I could go on and on.” Grandpa said
But to one thought I must return
Of all the things I know...I know...
There’s always more to learn.

But if you spend a little time reading
Before long this I know
Oh the things that you will learn
And the places you will go.

Then Grandpa set me at my desk
And he gave my head a kiss
He patted me on my shoulder
And then he told me this....

If you’re seeking wisdom, Billy
You don’t have far to look
Everything you need to know...
Cab be found in children’s books.


Green Finger

The year my grandpa gave up gardening with tired hands and a heavy heart

I found my green finger

It started small

Just a hint of colouring on the last finger of my left hand.


But it grew,


As those flowers thrived

My love for gardening blossomed

And I learned the art of caring for something

Other than myself.


It took time, effort.

But to watch those flowers grow and then,

Yield to the bitterness of winter,

To sprout the following spring

Was a gift.


What I was gifted, by my grandpas blood,

Was learning to create, to mend, to discover and to care.

Gardening isn’t about growing the biggest and best.

It has always been more.

It has been about each individual flower blooming,

Bright and beautiful

It has been about the fight you undergo to keep each tiny seed alive.

It has been about knowledge and discovery.


There are adventures to be found in gardening.

My grandpa knew this.

The year he gave up gardening and yielded to old age

And a lack of space

I found he had taught me the most important of lessons

Given me the most wonderful of gifts.

The gift of the green finger,

Of caring,

Of giving Life.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

This ones for my Grandpa Hugh, who taught me how to love something other than myself, and to love nature, always nature. 


I never knew my grandparents, never got to experience that particular joy

For my grandparents on both sides of my family died when I was but a boy.


In spite of that one thing I have noticed over and over again

Is there seemed to be more of a gap between the generations then.


And though I’m not sure if I can give you a scientific explanation

I believe that gap has decreased with each succeeding generation.


Which is why Deborah and I have a bone to pick with how grandparents are portrayed

And we’d like to put an end to this ignominious charade.


When a cartoonist draws a grandma her hair is invariably in a bun

If she’s not wearing a sweater chances are she’s knitting one.


Under her sweater is a flowered mumu, it seems for fashion she has a blatant disregard

She might have donned a wide brimmed hat as she plants daisies in her yard.


She’s holding a baby in a rocker and she’s singing a lullaby

In some pictures she just finished baking cookies or perhaps an apple pie.


When that same cartoonist draws a grandpa he is never very tall

And his hair is a vibrant shade of gray or white if he has any hair at all.


His plaid pants never match his shirt and his glasses are as thick as a window pane

He could be in a wheel chair but more likely he walks with a cane.


If Grandpa’s not sitting in some comfy chair smoking a pipe and watching TV too

Chances are he’s fishing or reading the Almanac for isn’t that what Grandpas do?


If you look around at grandparents today, you’ll find us agile and nimble and spry

In fact you’ll discover to your amazement those old stereotypes don’t apply. 


Deborah doesn’t wear a mumu, no wide brimmed hat, no bun,

If you ask her grandkids what they think, they’d say their grandma’s fun. 


She’s creative, she’s compassionate, she’s patient and I can verify

She’s great with babies, loves to bake and sings a soothing lullaby.


And as for me though I am bald I don’t wear plaid pants, never would.

And if I do say so myself, I make the clothes I wear look good.


I do not fish, don’t watch much TV, don’t read the Farmer’s Almanac

When the grandkids ask to play football guess who’s the quarterback?


Deborah and I will try jumping rope, playing soccer and climbing trees too

Because in this day and age, in our generation, that’s what grandparents do!


We are a mix of old and new, we are much cooler and hipper than before

(Even though I’m pretty sure people don’t say cooler or hipper anymore!) 


We embrace some of the traits of our grandparents, yes the good ones have survived

But speaking for Deborah and the grandparents I know, a new generation has arrived!


So cartoonists when you draw Deborah draw her with style, grace and fun

And if you’re drawing her baking cupcakes, make sure there funky ones.


And when you take our your pencils out don’t draw me in a rocking chair


Draw me up a tree or on a roller coaster and if you want you can add more hair.

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When I met him 9 years ago,
I didn’t know it then, oh no

But I know it now, that he
Was my husband, or going to be

He makes me feel so good, oh how
Even though I cant see him now

Because he lives so far away
When he does move, he’s going to stay

He’s going to stay near me
And we can finally be

One, where we were once two
But for now I am going to be blue

Because I can’t see him
I know that my chance will be slim

To see him and consummate our relationship
I know that day we will be attached at the hip

But we cannot do anything just yet
Because a date is not set

For anything, his surgery included
All that will come in time, so he has said

I know I can talk to him now
And that elevates my heart, oh how

For this poem there is no end
Because it is like the love I send
Straight to him, of which has no end

Written on
July 1, 2011

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This one was written about Scott Wolf. It is also written about What my parents are doing. They will get there just desereves for all of this. Mind you, I have never, never named a poem after a person. Written their names in it, I have; but never named a poem for them.

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Bern and Tom

Love Poems

She looks lovingly into his eyes,
As if she sees the world in them.
He holds her next to him closely,
As if he thinks she would leave him.
She could never leave him.

True love cannot stop death, however.
And one day, he left her.
She learned to carry on.

She taught me something that year,
Something I’m sure I’ll never forget.
Death cannot stop true love.

They’re both gone now; death has taken them.
I’m sure they’re okay, though. After all,
It wouldn’t be heaven without each other.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

This was inspired by an old photograph of my grandparents. May they rest in peace. <3

And yes, I did quote The Princess Bride. It's my favorite movie. >___>

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