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A Son's Forgiveness and a Father's Pride (standard:Inspirational stories, 2030 words)
Author: CL SchillingAdded: Nov 16 2011Views/Reads: 1691/1005Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A short non-fiction story about forgiveness, love, and family.

by CL Schilling 

“So Bob, how do you feel about sticking your hands in the toilet?” my
grandfather asked loudly as he leaned his small frail body against the 
large booth seat and then stared back at us. 

“Yeah, I will do it,” my father replied while looking down at his cup of
coffee looking embarrassed. Across the table from us, a well dressed 
African American woman in her mid 50s looked at my grandfather 
awkwardly as he put creamer in his coffee without realizing how loud 
his voice carried. 

Accompanying my father and grandfather to close our family cottage
October every year was something of a tradition. Taking place usually 
on a Saturday, the three of us would end the summer in Conneaut Lake, 
PA by putting up storm windows, draining the hot water tank, and yes, 
even draining the toilets in the cottage with a sponge before putting 
antifreeze down the drains. 

But while there was a lot of work to be done, I not only had the
opportunity to be amused by some of the bizarre, almost senile comments 
my grandfather would say but also spend time with my him. This was 
especially important since I wasn't as close with my father's side of 
the family as I was with my mother's family, especially her father. 
There was also something sentimental about the time I spent with my 
father and my grandfather too. There we were, three generations of 
Schilling men, the only males in our entire family that carry the 
Schilling name, spending time together. 

The leaves were beginning to fall off the trees taking away from the
beautiful Pennsylvania autumn foliage in 2001 as I, a high school 
senior, helped my dad pull a water softener out of a small shed beside 
the cottage and into my grandfather's car so it could go back to home 
with him and be put in his basement so it wouldn't freeze. And of 
course any project with my father and my grandfather in charge usually 
involved a lot of swearing and anxiety, especially if a problem arose. 

“I think it's best we get the salt out of it first, Bob,” my grandfather

My grandfather was once a quiet yet sarcastic World War II Army officer
and a successful business man. But by 2001, he was in his late 80s. It 
amazed me how different he looked from the photographs I would see when 
he was a young military officer dressed in his uniform and in other 
photographs was a successful business man who wore a fresh pressed suit 
and was dining with business associates.  But all that passed him 
because in 2001 he stood hunched over that four foot tank looking old 
with his hearing aids which stuck in his ears reminding me of Uhura 
from Star Trek. 

“Well, I can't get the salt out of it Dad, there is no way of pulling it
out. We either move it this way or it ain't moving at all.” 

I could never really understand why my father would occasionally use
words such as ‘ain't,' especially when he was frustrated or angry. For 
a highly educated man with a Masters Degree in Public Health and a job 
as a health physicist, it baffled me why he would choose such words. 
Though he never used poor English around my mother who as an English 
teacher, for she would kill him if she heard him say ‘ain't.' 

My grandfather continued to stare silently into the empty water softener
cylinder which had salt pebbles collected at the bottom. He then shook 
his head as if he was looking at a old friend who was laying dead in a 

“Well, if you think you can move it, you can try. I can't be much of a
help though,” he finally replied. 

“Chris and I can get it,” my dad said as he started rolling it out of
the shed. 

The objective was simple; place the water softener into the backseat of
my grandfather's station wagon.   But you can probably figure it wasn't 
going to be that simple. 

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