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Politics and shower heads


Charmaine Blair Robinson

Guest Columnist

  Winston Gordon was the first love of my life, and although it’s been almost two years since I lost him, my heart aches as though it was yesterday. He was tall and thin and just about the handsomest man I had ever met. He had the most infectious laugh. Whenever he laughed (which wasn’t very often), I had to laugh too, even when I had no idea what he was laughing about.

  He had a way with words, too. He was a builder by trade but he should have been a poet. He always knew just the right words to say to put a smile on my face, and the right time to say them to make everything better. He had the same effect on others too, particularly the ladies. I saw him make grown women giggle as though they were being tickled, much to the chagrin of my grandmother.

  My grandfather could also be really stern too -- sometimes so unyielding that he eventually earned the nickname Pharaoh. If you conducted yourself in the appropriate manner then you had nothing to fear, but if you were caught doing anything that ran contrary to what he valued or instructed, then prepare to be the recipient of a warranted dressing-down. For milder infractions, he would just glare at you with furrowed brows over the top of his glasses, and you knew instantly that whatever path you were headed down was the wrong one.

  He drank like a fish and smoked like a chimney but refused to quit even after his first heart attack. I rarely saw him without a glass of rum and milk in one hand and a cigarette in the other, but he never missed an opportunity to tell me that those were his vices and I was forbidden from adopting them.

  He was home alone when it happened. The doctor said it was a massive heart attack. My uncle found him the next day, kneeling in front of his bed almost as if frozen in prayer. He was only eighty-three but I wasn’t ready. There was still so much talking and learning left to do. The pain I feel is more than what one experiences at the loss of a loved one. My pain is also laced with guilt.

  He lived in Jamaica and I had not seen him in years. Whenever we talked, the first or last thing he wanted to know was when he would be seeing me and the “great-grands.” I would always tell him that I would see him the following year but somehow it just never happened. He would remind me that he was getting older and time was no longer on his side. He would say, “The Almighty promised three scores and ten and I have surpassed that. I am on overtime now and can go at any time.” I wanted more than anything to just sit down and chat with him about any and everything under the sun, like we used to when I was a girl, and record our conversations for my children.

  He used to say that the secret to life was to treat others the way I would want them to treat me. He said if people operated on that simple principle the world would be such a better place. He was also the yardstick by which I measured the worthiness of my “intendeds.” The ones that I deemed worthy got the opportunity to meet him for an evaluation, unbeknownst to them. Only two ever made it. One was the first boy I kissed, who eventually broke my sixteen-year-old heart and the other is the man to whom I am now married.

  I didn’t attend my grandfather’s funeral. I felt I was too late. He was dead, and nothing I said or did was going to change that, and I wasn’t interested in saying goodbye either. I remember he used to say that he didn’t see the point of waiting until a person was dead to tell them what they meant to you. I had waited too long.

  Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Today is all we have for certain.   


  Charmaine considers herself a writer-in-progress. She lives in McDonough with her husband and children.




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