I ended my Grandfather's (Gramps) eulogy with a story about one of our many road trips during my youth. The typical setup was Gramps and me sitting in the front seat of his 1980 white Ford truck while my sister and Gram rode in the camper that sat on the flatbed. The classic truck had roll-down windows, a push-button FM/AM radio, and an intercom that connected to the back, allowing us to talk to Gram, or she could push the button on her end and talk to us. This was well before cell phones, so if the intercom didn’t work, your only other form of communicating was banging on the camper wall as hard as you could or try tapping in Morse code. A last resort might be lighting something on fire so the smoke grabbed the driver’s attention, but Gramps always said flames in a camper were never good.
Gramps and I sat in the front, having man-to-man talks. I don’t remember too many details of his stories, but I did feel safe, loved, and understood. His stories usually covered the rules of life in rich and meaningful messages.
On one trip to Disneyland when I was fourteen, Gramps and I rode quietly as he drove through the hot Nevada desert. Gram’s voice came over the intercom. “Dad, are you going to pull off?” “Not yet.” Gramps answered.
“But we’re probably low on gas?”
“No, we’re good.”
“The kids are probably getting hungry.”
“They can make it a while longer.”
“I’m going to be getting hungry.”
“We just had lunch. Are you sure?”
“Yes, I will be hungry again soon, and what about the hot temperature outside?”
“What about it?”
“Should you check to see if the engine is okay?”
“No, it’s running fine.”
Gram’s voice continued to rise with each statement. “Dad I’m sure it’s time to stop!”
“No. It’s not. We are good.”
“But you’re probably getting tired, and that spot over there looks like a great place to stop.”
We both knew there was no way Gram could possibly see out of the camper to identify anything other than a passing vehicle or two. And then it happened.