|There's Got To Be
2008 by by Mike Ward
I took my buddy, John, to Bea's today. John had never been to Bea's Restaurant before, having grown up in Fort Payne, he'd never even heard of Bea's before. His first wife, who he referred to as "my son's Mother" in an attempt to not grieve at work had just passed on after being badly, badly burned, and I wanted to reach out to John, to establish an area of commonality that could help distract him from the fact that the mother of his only son had just died, so being the sensitive guy that I am, I took John to Bea's.
My Grandmother had died after being burned in a house fire the day before I was married. Her husband, my Grandfather, had always taken me to Bea's and therein lies the segue. Segues are important. It's important to always know how you got where you are. Segues are the dreams we've really lived much more than any sequences of thought that explains a stream of thought. It would have been the type of thing my Grandfather would have said.
Grandpa Daddy, as we called him, ran a Gilman's Paint Store across from the school I went to and at the bottom of the street I grew up on. He was a self-educated navy cook who'd never gone to college who had earlier in his life drank a pay check or two and chased a lot of women. He was also my first friend. He'd taught me to draw, explained evolution, the theory of relativity and algebra while I was still an age when most kids hadn't even begun to suspect the truth about Santa Claus, and had made me understand.
Grandpa Daddy would take me to Bea's. I remember discussing infinite smallness and infinite bigness with him, the lazy-Susan spinning before us with all the fried chicken and mediocre barbecue you could eat, as the mundane world of people whom had never learned to think big thoughts spun by around them as the perfect strangers with whom our meal was shared remained oblivious to it all.
This was their life. They should pay attention.
"This is your life, Michael, pay attention," Grandpa Daddy had said, and then he'd start a fresh, "Molecules are drawn on paper just like lazy-Susans, you know."
John went on about how good the chicken was. Man, I'm going to have to tell my wife about this place, he said. It's better than the Pine Ridge in Fort Payne. The peach cobbler reminded him of his mother's.
My Mom never was much on baking the cobbler. She was more of a cook it as fast as you can kind of cook. She was big into pressure cookers--the precursor to microwaves.
I remember when I was thirteen, Grandpa Daddy had asked me to go to Bea's with him and I had said no. I of course had my friends to hang with, I was too big to go to Bea's with my grandfather. He never acted mad, though on hind sight he probably had told me to go to hell, but he'd always said that all the time anyway. He'd also always told me to shut up and listen a lot and then smiled this big, huge smile whenever I wanted to argue with him.
"God always was Grandpa Daddy, that's just the way it is, he didn't come from no where. You can't talk about God like that," I'd said.
He'd smiled real big. "Must had been a lonely fellow before we came along."
"Well, angels of course. Look, they're bringing more peach cobbler!"
John's main concern was for his son, that he'd had to see his mother suffer so badly for so long, that in the end he like everyone else had probably realized that she'd probably be better off dead. He hoped that his son after everything else didn't feel bad about that, having a thought what was only the truth. The mother of his only son had died and John was worried about his son.
"This is your life too, John," I had wanted to say, "Pay attention," as my thoughts returned to the time I'd told Grandpa Daddy I didn't want to go to Bea's with him. I'd give anything to go to Bea's with him today, just to touch base with him, let him see me as a man.
There's got to be a Bea's in heaven, don't you think?
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