by cheri block
When my grandfather Harry’s third wife died on him, he decided never to marry again. This decision came late in life when he was around 80.
In those days, he lived in a lovely white apartment building overlooking Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, but the neighborhood had become coarse and unsafe for an old man.
But his mantra was “Get up and get out.” So he did.
Even though he had been mugged on one of his long walks around the lake, he still arose each morning, dressed himself in a tweed sport coat and a dapper wool hat, walked to public transit and rode across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. From there, he took a cab to the St. Francis Hotel by Union Square.
Once in the hotel lobby, he found a well worn Queen Anne chair, ordered a cup of hot coffee and read the San Francisco Chronicle for several hours.
He returned home before lunch.
Like the old man in Hemingway’s A Clean Well Lighted Space, Harry just wanted to be around people, savor the pleasures of hot coffee, watch the world go by, and be part of it.
We grandchildren found him charming, even in our immaturity.
And to this day, no matter what my mood, I take his mantra seriously.