I have done a horrible job of staying on top of my blog here and following the many blogs I enjoy following. For those of you here now who haven’t forgotten about me, THANK YOU! I appreciate so much your loyalty! I will jump over to your blogs no matter how hectic my summer schedule becomes or has surprisingly become despite what I thought would be a relaxing, blog-writing and commenting summer break. Grrrrrrr!
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As my family and I approach my Dad’s 24th anniversary of passing away to suicide, today I want to reflect back on one of his most memorable, most classically funny moments he and my grandfather made for me and my family. This is one I have never forgotten.
My Grandpa Bonnet had a wonderful simple sense of humor. It was that humor you find in small country Texas towns from farmers, ranchers, and cowboys. As long as I had known my Grandpa Bonnet, nothing ever seemed to get under his skin or ruffle his feathers because he could always find some comical interpretation to life’s curve-balls. Everyone in my family loved it, my Dad especially. Granny Bonnet, not so much. Even if Granny Bonnet was in a tirade, Grandpa would find the humor in something. Many times it egged-on Granny making us begin to chuckle under our breath hoping she would not see or hear us. It was hilarious, especially when Granny finally left the room!
One holiday weekend myself, my sister, Mom, Dad, Granny Bonnet, and Grandpa Bonnet all climbed into Grandpa’s 1963 yellow Chevy Impala. I can’t remember now where we were going – it didn’t matter then – but it couldn’t have been too far because McDade was a tiny remote town in central Texas where they had lived for several years. McDade was famous because of the twin-knob hills in the distance where a famous wild-west shoot-out took place, not too unlike what happens today in our great “free” Lone-Star-for-a-reason state (wink).
My sister, Mom, and Granny were sitting in the back seat. Dad and I sat up front with Grandpa, who was driving. I wasn’t real sure why all the women sat in the back that day, but now that I’m older, wiser, and an eighth-generation Texan, I now have a very good idea. But on this day, and hindsight being 20/20, I would have been more than happy to be in the trunk!
It was well after 12-noon, a pleasant summer evening, and we were on one of the many two-lane-only state highways in the middle of nowhere near McDade. Grandpa loved to talk and tell his simple stories. Granny also liked to talk, non-stop, but not in story-form. Her chatter was everything that was wrong or could go wrong, remarkably and often circling back to Grandpa. Granny Bonnet was the epitome of an incessant worry-wart. As I reached my teen-years, I began to see clearly why Grandpa Bonnet had such a fantastic sense of humor and thick skin.
The first sign our “family drive” was to be exciting was when we approached something centered in the middle of the highway and unflinching. My Grandfather and Dad noticed it. It was a squirrel sitting up on its hind-legs seemingly as brave (or stupid) as squirrels-in-the-road can be. In fact, I thought it was a fake stuffed-animal it was so perfectly still. Grandpa began talking to the rodent like a Squirrel-whisperer, “Move little guy. You better move!” Nothing. The idiot squirrel just sat there like a stone statue. My sister in the back seat sat up, amazed that it wouldn’t run off. She too begged it to run. We were only seconds away now…Grandpa kept a steady 55 mph, not slowing down one bit. We approached, Grandpa centered his yellow Impala straight at it, I thought so he could pin it to the radiator or hood!? My eyes widened and the gasps began. Still that damn stupid animal would not budge! The women began screaming at Grandpa in horror “STOP! STOP Grandpa!” as we drove over it, but Grandpa only chuckled more with each closing foot! “Murderer!” I heard my sister yell. I waited to hear the thumps underneath the floorboard trickling from front, right down our shoe-soles to the back.
Then EVERYONE, including Grandpa, jerked our heads and gaping mouths rearward to see the carnage…
And as if to say “I won!” that squirrel sat exactly where he stood, unmoved, unscathed! It was the most astonishing death-wish-gone-wrong I’d ever seen. It was impossible for anyone to express this miracle of life because Granny was screaming undecipherable words at Grandpa even my Mom had never heard! I stared at Grandpa and he just chuckled at every sentence Granny tried to complete. I looked over at my Dad and he was doing the same thing, but face forward to escape Granny’s verbal wrath. Swept up by the moment, I let burst my laughter too. Now Granny was getting furious with anyone in the front seat!
As we continued down the two-lane-only highway, without missing a beat or miles per hour, Grandpa just HAD to share his newly discovered squirrel-stew recipe. Talk about the live definition of inciting, Grandpa had decades of experience and the war-medals to prove it (wink)! It was all my Dad could do not to multiply the soft mumbled jokes coming from Grandpa. In the front seat, one joke would lead to another simple story. In the back seat, more high-pitched cackling with each non-response from Grandpa – he was in the middle of a story! Grandpa would face my Dad and I while talking, making sure we could hear him. The more Granny bitched at Grandpa, the more Grandpa would chuckle and grin at us to make louder his point.
Right about that moment I noticed things hitting and pinging the underside of the car. I sat way up to get a better view, “now what!?” Ahead was a slow drifting right-curve, not sharp, but nonetheless going in a direction that was clearly not straight. I looked up at Grandpa and he was waist-deep in his story, trying to keep at least an equal decibel level to Granny, Mom, and my sister in back, but looking uninterrupted at my Dad. I snapped back to the highway in front, that was less in front. I looked back at Grandpa trying to impolitely interrupt him politely! I snapped my head to Dad; did he see my face at all!?
Um, is anyone else scared shitless as I am right now!? Hello!
Our fast-moving Chevy Impala was now ever-so-slightly beginning to lean left as the highway ever-so-gradually moved to the right! It had become so loud between Granny’s verbal tirade at Grandpa and Grandpa’s grand story about squirrel barbecuing, that no one could hear the gravel hitting the tires and floorboard! I glanced back to Dad – perhaps to take one last look at him in life – and as Grandpa drew a breath and Granny was exhausted, just as calm and serious as an airline pilot preparing everyone for impact, my Dad said…
“Mr. Bonnet,” and my Dad pointed forward, “Is that the McDade water-tower up ahead?”
Grandpa looked, why yes it was…and in that instance the right-side tires fell off the shoulder and gravel began shooting out everywhere! He jerked the steering wheel right and corrected our direction from bumpy doom into cedar-fence posts, to the intended path of proper motor vehicles with just a few clumps of grass packed in the front bumper; the cows would never miss! Saved!
Grandpa began laughing uncontrollably! Shocked, I couldn’t decide if he was laughing so hard at my Dad’s question, or if he was laughing more at Granny’s renewed vocabulary at him. We must have heard thirty different versions of “You’re suppose to look at the road when you drive Felix, not get us splattered with the cows!” Needless to say, there was no silence all the way home. And I’ve never seen my Grandpa grin at me so much for so long a drive. Normal? I imagine so after some of the words and phrases I learned from Granny. Insane? Hell yeah! Between stoned-up squirrel, squirrel barbecuing, shifty highways, a furious non-stop cackling old Granny, and two adult men laughing in the face of vehicular off-roading disaster and the back-seat narrative that went with it? Yeah, totally insane, but totally rad!
Miss those new moments Dad, but I keep ones like this forever. Thank you.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
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