Young people need a good friend for advice

By Dave Kirkpatrick

My girlfriend told me that many of my columns are nostalgic. Sure they are. I write about some of my kiddy memories because it seems most of the things that meant something back then mean nothing now.

I also write about many of my memories because I don’t write about things I don’t know about. And I really can’t stand when someone writes about things without having any knowledge of the subject except for what they read in the newspaper yesterday. I hate self-made geniuses.

So keeping with tradition, here is some more nostalgia.

I experienced something last weekend that I will refer to as “reverse nostalgia.” Or, even more accuratley perhaps, a sense of nostalgia that I thought was long gone.

I saw my friend “Gramps” last weekend after a long time away. The good feelings I had when I saw him rekindled the moment we first met about two years ago. At the time of our introduction, he reminded me of someone. The sense that I knew him from some time in the past scared me just a little. Our first meeting seemed too comfortable. We got along too well. Who knows? Maybe it was because he is a Cub fan and likes to partake in a cold beer now and then.

While we sat and chatted over a cold one, we talked and talked. As he talked, I was fixed by his humor, his smarts and his curiosity with my life. Every time he said something, he asked for my opinion. Everytime he laughed, I laughed with him. When he talked to me, he looked me in the eyes and really listened.

His company is refreshing and his experiences over the years as a CTA bus driver, father and grandfather make for humourous anecdotes and great laughs. He seems to like everyone, at least on the outside, and always has time for people. After all he has been through, it is a tribute to his personality to be so involved with others.

The sense of knowing him from somewhere in the past continued to perplex me until I came to a sort of realization.

My mother’s parents died when I was very young, too young. The stories she told me paint a rather blurred picture of what kind of people they actually were, but if my mother is any indication, they must have been great people.

She told me stories of how my grandfather was a Chicago railroad cop in the days of Al “Scarface” Capone. I guess he was pretty involved with helping Big Al run liquor, and the stories he could tell would probably have made some pretty interesting conversation.

My father’s parents were more visible, but my memories of them have clouded over the years, and our relationships never really received the chance to blossom into something that would last.

Whack! It hit me. Since memories of my grandparents are cloudy, and since I always wanted the feeling of having someone to call “Gramps,” I identified with this guy who seemed to fill a void I never really knew existed.

He isn’t my grandfather, and I don’t expect someone to replace those people who are no longer around. People are too special to be replaced by the first similar one that walks by. But “Gramps” is different. He’s natural in his nostalgia. He breathes fresh air into a person who used to think role models dissappeared with Tonka Toys and cartoon matinees.

I want to thank “Gramps” and all the other folks out there who take time to be curious about the younger generation. It makes those of us who are looking for advice feel like it is no big deal to ask. In a world where everyone seems “too busy,” it is refreshing when someone takes time to find out a little bit about you. I wish some of the upper dogs at this university would be so inclined to get out of their cozy offices and do the same thing.

Finally, I just have to ask one question. How ‘bout those Cubbies “Gramps”?