French Fries and a Chocolate Shake

by Jonathan Hilton

ffandshakeI can remember that day very clearly. I was sitting at the restaurant with french fries and a chocolate shake on the table in front of me, talking with my grandparents about my upcoming graduation from high school.

The reason I recall this day is not because of anything that was said, it was the feeling I had of becoming an adult and that my grandparents approved of the young man I was turning into and that made me feel good.

How did I know they approved? I suppose I didn’t for sure at that moment, but there are many other forms of communication that can’t be ignored.

His Name Was Leslie

My grandfather’s name was Leslie, I always thought how tough life must have been with

This is Leslie, I love this picture it shows his sense of humor, which I have inherited I think.
This is Leslie, I love this picture it shows his sense of humor, which I have inherited I think.

that name, but he did not give two shakes what anyone else thought about him.  It was one of the things that I was often embarrassed by as a kid and one of the things I remember most fondly today.

Thoughts of Leslie came up today, I was thinking about how do you know if someone you love who has passed away would be proud of you today? Leslie died in 1993 from complications from heart surgery.  It was unexpected, it was supposed to be a routine surgery, but there is nothing routine about any procedure as we found out.

I Never said Good bye

People of that generation were serious, they didn't express emotions much, it wasn't a proper thing to do. Leslie was great anyway!!
People of that generation were serious, they didn’t express emotions much, it wasn’t a proper thing to do. Leslie was great anyway!!

I never got a chance to say good-bye in person, and I have no idea how he really felt about me then. He was from a generation that didn’t talk about their emotions very much. You just had to kind of figure it out.  There were signs, but you had to look to see them.

Wondering now as I move along in life, I have faced difficult times. I have made mistakes. I have been far from perfect. I accept that, and I wonder often if Leslie and I could sit down and have a conversation today, what would he say?

I would ask, “Grandfather are you proud of me? Knowing all that I have done and been through.  I imagine the response goes something like this.

“I have always been proud of you, because you are the only one who can be who you are. You never saw my challenges and the struggles I had with my parents and finding my place in the world. I am not sure how I would have done in your shoes. I do know that where you are now, only you could get there, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen in the future. I love you.”  I don’t remember him ever saying that to me in my life, but in my heart I just know he did. Why else would he do so many fantastic things for me?

Gone but Never Forgotten

That conversation is what I imagine and it affects me almost like it were real and not the whispering of a ghost.  In the end I guess it doesn’t matter, because I have to realize that I am a good person, I wouldn’t steal from you for any reason. I won’t lie if I can help it, (how does my hair look? If it looks bad, I don’t want to hurt feelings.) I would try to help anyone who needs it. In fact, when I look at the things like that I realize,

I am just like Leslie, and that makes me realize that even though he is no longer here, he lives inside of me and I owe it to him and all of my family to be the best human being I can be, including being proud of who I am and what I have become.

That is why I have no choice, when I eat an order of fries and a chocolate shake but to remember Leslie.  I smile and feel happy for who I am.

19 thoughts on “French Fries and a Chocolate Shake”

  1. Beautiful Jon. I am fond of the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh when it comes to our ancestors – that if we look into our hands we will realise they are still here with us, because they are part of us. All of our ancestors are part of us, as they have made us who we are today.

    1. He was and I hope so! Thank you MFE for your comments. I appreciate your contribution and the fact that you are such a nice, funny and wonderful person!

        1. Either is fine, but Jon is quicker to write and in real life only my mother calls me Jonathan! 🙂 You can choose whichever you would like. Do you prefer miss, or four eyes? Do you hide your real name like a secret identity? MFE is ok but I am curious as to the real name. My first guess is Allison, my second is Melissa and my third is Angela? Am I close? 🙂

          1. Either is fine, you can pick whichever 🙂
            Sorry Jon, it’s none of those. I do kind of hide my real name like a secret identity online. I don’t know what it is, just feels weird. Tell you what, email me and I’ll tell you what it is

          2. I think it might be more fun for me to guess. I need one hint. That is it. I will Email you some guesses. 🙂 It’s like a mystery game. I just started a website and I had a url with my name then I learned about blogging and writing, At that point it was kind of silly to create an identity online. Perhaps I should now. I have to think of a good one. 🙂

          3. I sent a bunch of guesses to the email on the post. First before I saw this clue then after I got this clue. I am almost there!

  2. This is a wonderful story about your grandfather. Did he go by Les? I know a Leslie that goes by Les. I think it’s an interesting name for a boy. Of course your grandfather is proud of you. If he really is like you describe, there isn’t anything you could do to make him “unproud”. If you can feel him in your heart, that’s exactly where he is. 🙂

  3. This is great! As long as we remember them, as long as we can think about them, they will always be here with us. I think of my grandfather when ever I’m fishing on the river he loved. I think of my grandmother any time I play a record. And, while I am sad they didn’t get to see the man I am today and the beautiful family I’m putting together, I know they would be proud of me. They were always proud of me.

  4. Those are the best words one could ever hear from a parent/grandparent. I am going to steal them to tell my kids/grandkids. They ring true for any generation. You were definitely channeling your Grandfather there, Jon. Great post. {{{hugs}}} kozo

    1. Thank you Kozo, you are welcome to use them any time you want to. I enjoyed writing this thoroughly! I am grateful for you comment and support, and being a great blogger buddy.

  5. Pingback: Reality Blog Award! | Pondering Spawned

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