My Grandfather, Herman Barnett, was one of the best friends I ever had. He was almost deaf and I was a chatterbox, which made us quite compatible.
We used to like to hang out together. We’d go to lunch, where he would tell me every time that I was his favorite grandchild. (Do you think my offering to pay for lunch may have been the reason I was ranked #1 grandchild?) After lunch, he would show me off to all his cronies, who were gathered on the big porch of the apartment building on South Beach where he lived.
When I gave birth to my first born son, I was living just a short distance from Grandpa Herman’s apartment. He had been diagnosed with Leukemia and his health was rapidly failing. I came to visit often, knowing that spending time with my baby boy would bring him joy.
Grandpa Herman used to collect pennies in a big jar. One day, when it was just about filled, he told me to take the jar home. I looked at him and asked, “Why?” He said he wanted my son to have the money for his first birthday!
Just a few weeks later, for my twenty-fourth birthday, Grandpa Herman gave me $25…one dollar for every year, with an extra one for good luck. My Aunt Shirley had helped him write out the card. He insisted on using lots of colored magic markers. (She told me later, that it took my grandfather hours to create the card.) I thanked my grandfather for the generous gift and the beautiful birthday card.
Later that afternoon, I walked (with my baby in the stroller) to Burdines on Lincoln Road, to buy myself a new dress. I found the perfect one! It was a turquoise color with a swirly skirt. I couldn’t wait to show my grandfather the gorgeous dress that he bought me!
Grandpa Herman died a few days later. I wore the turquoise dress to his funeral.