To write for years and never touch upon things that matter is an art form my great grandfather claims to have perfected.

He never took kindly to being seated amongst a group of strangers because he preferred to be the butt of all jokes. How he managed to bring a roomful of people to laughter without breaking a smile, or a sweat, was always something I admired.

He told me never to use words to share myself with others. He said sharing my body wasn’t much better, but assuming I’d protected myself, at least it would leave no traces of who I really was behind.

He felt that people are nothing more than their effort to be anything other than what they dared to face in the mirror. I always thought he was just jaded because he’d been divorced four times, had four children that wanted nothing to do with him and a bum leg on account of Vietnam.

I never told him that, though. I just nodded cause he never asked me to talk.

I was with him when he died.

He said he wasn’t leaving with nary a regret for the deals, trades, and folds made with the cards he’d been dealt. He said Uno was a card game for pussys, that checkers were for pussy lovers and pick up sticks were for horny housewives.

His jokes left me feeling euphoric even though it was only him on the morphine drip.

I think he might have been earnest only towards the end, but then again, maybe he was all the way through. His final advice was written in my mind more indelibly than all the others put together.

“Gal, you don’t talk much, and I suspect at this point you likely never will. I want to tell you something, though. Should you ever get a rumbling deep inside to express yourself, don’t use the word I. It’ll be held against you in the court of life just like in the court of law. Become what you want to express, but don’t ever express what you want to become.”

I never did heed Grandad’s advise cause it conflicted with how he really felt about folks and more than anything, I never wanted to deny or fear myself in the mirror.

I never commanded a room like him either, but I did learn how to take command of my heart. I had love enough to let someone in who helped turn my thoughts into an audible whisper and I learned how beautiful a voice can be.

Sometimes I think Grandad pulled the ole reverse psychology on me.