So, tonight, out of absolutely nowhere, I decided to call him. I found his phone number (the wonders of the internet) and dug up all of my nerve...
And called. A smallish child answered the phone and I was petrified that I had only the information that he lives near Atlanta and his name is [redacted] and I was pretty sure (but not positive) on his last name and he invented plastic plants (yes, I am directly blood-related to the man who set those atrocities loose on the world) as in plastic house plants.
The kid asked who was calling. I told him my name and that I thought jack knew me. He asked if it was about his foot. I said no and I was waiting for someone to yell "dad! Phone!" so I could be humiliated to tell a stranger that I was looking for my grandpa and called the wrong man. But instead he said "grandpa phone" and I was slightly relieved. The kid turned out to be my cousin. I didn't know he existed, but when I got to talk to him, he told me he knew who I was, I have red hair and my picture is on the fridge, but I was six then. Suddenly, I wished my first grade school picture was more flattering...
I talked to my grandpa for maybe half an hour. I'll know for sure when the phone bill comes. It was long enough to make me cry, but not long enough.....
I learned that he's diabetic and he had half his foot amputated recently. A family history of diabetes is enough information to make the call worthwhile if I never speak to him again... And for my whole 21 year life I have been denying that I had a family history of diabetes.
I learned that my aunt is now 29 and is doing well and has a child. My grandpa was really nice to me. Really nice. It made me want to jump into my car (which barely gets me to work some days) and drive to Atlanta to hug him. He was actually happy to hear from me. I was so scared that whatever had caused him not to talk to my father or my aunts was going to make him hang up the phone.
I told him about my life and my sisters and he asked about my mom three times... He mentioned dad and just said to tell him hello and that he loves him and "short visits make long friends". I know they haven't spoken in more than ten years.
I had never heard that phrase before "short visits make long friends" but I really like it.
I gave him my phone number and I learned he makes it near here pretty often for the horse races when they are "in season" and he said he would call me. I don't know if I expect him to, but I know he meant it when he said it. He told me to call anytime and particularly if I was ever in Atlanta.
So my brief interview with the man who invented plastic house plants (he figured out how to make them not smell funny, that was the key), was very informative. I don't know what happens from here, but I am glad I made the call, and I think I'll be finding a more recent photo of myself to mail off to Georgia soon if nothing else.