I somehow knew there would be a point in time that I would become my grandparents. But, I didn’t know it would be so instantaneous or so severe; or that it would be my maternal grandfather vs. my paternal grandmother that would be the chosen one to model. After all, I’m cubic, dark and broody like dad’s side of the family; not tall, lanky and anxious like mom’s. But suddenly, I have arrived.
Grandpa White liked routines. All kinds of routines. But none more than his nighttime ritual of getting three Chips Ahoy cookies for a small plate along with a medium sized glass of milk right before bed. He would dim the kitchen light over the small round table that had seen turkey dinners, buckets of laughter and Carvel ice cream for generations; and hunch over the plate breaking off small pieces. He never dunked them, but he did alternate a bite of cookie with a swig of milk in a pattern that I can’t quite remember. He called this ritual “cook and milkies” just to get a rise out of his 5 children, his 14 grandchildren and as many of the 20-something great grandchildren that he had the pleasure of meeting. We tried valiantly to correct him but he steadfastly behaved as if he had no idea what we were saying. “Milk and cookies, Grandpa! Milk and cookies!!” But he would just bite and swish. For a very anxious person, this seemed to give him some measure of calm. His routine. The predictability. I guess it was his way of inviting order to pull up a chair with chaos each evening to somehow balance the day.