My Mom used to say it lovingly, perhaps even with a touch of envy. Every time I’d say I wanted to go somewhere, she’d say, “You’re just like your grandfather…a damned gypsy!”
I didn’t know him very well, since we lived in New York and he lived in St. Louis, but I still remember what he smelled like – sweat from hard work, Borax soap, and fresh tobacco.
Grandpa would sit beside me on the porch swing while he’d roll a cigarette and smoke. This was the early 1950’s. My skinny little legs stuck straight out in front of me, his long skinny legs, stretched out before him, barely moved as he rocked us. He’d talk to me, rather than at me, and he listened intently. I always felt important around him.
On one visit, Grandpa took me to the Five & Dime and bought me a toy gun and holster set just like my hero, Roy Rogers. And perhaps as an afterthought, a fancy pair of suede gloves with fringe just like Dale Evans.
He worked on the railroad, so he traveled a lot and told me stories of the places he’d been. Between my Dad buying me a Lionel train set for my first birthday, and my galavanting Grandpa, is it any surprise that I grew up to be a gypsy ?
I think not.