Just Between You, Me and the Fence Post

A Sunday night memory:

My grandfather would sometimes start a conversation with me by saying, “Just between you, me and the fence post…” which meant I was to keep what followed to myself. It made me feel a bit special, as if he actually thought I could keep a secret. (I couldn’t. We actually had a joke that went like this, “you can telegraph, telephone, or tell a (insert your friend’s name here.)” Grandpa would say things like, “Just between you, me and the fence post … I want to kill your grandmother.” Or, “JBYM&TFP, I think they should all go to hell.” In reality, he was a very kind man, well mannered, and generous. JBYM&TFP was just when he was exasperated with a situation. His wife could exasperate an angel.

He was the hardest working man I ever knew. He got up at 5:30 every single morning. He would brag about it too. He would watch the sunrise, drinking coffee with his wife, every day. After lunch, he took a 20 minute nap, usually outside. Then he’d jump up and start working on his little ranch/farm until dinner where he would drink one beer, out of a can, but not before letting his wife drink the first sip because she liked “the foamy part..” “Best part of the beer,” she’d say or I would hear probably more than a thousand times in my life because we lived next door to each other.

Alzheimer’s crept into my JBYM&TFP buddy’s mind. One day he asked me where I lived and I said, “I live in Paradise grandpa.” (That really is the name of the town I live in. I wasn’t being metaphysically a smart ass.) He said, ” You do? My grandson lives in Paradise. Gary McMahon. You ever hear of him?” Being that was me, I wasn’t sure how to respond and I was worried he might follow up with, “Yep, the dumbest sonuvabitch you’ll ever meet.”

Now here is the odd thing. This man was actually my stepmother’s stepfather. I had known him since I was three years old. He treated me like I was his first born. He shared his talents and treasure with me. He told me his secrets. Just between you, me, and the fence post, I wish I had recognized the uniqueness of this loving man’s spirit during my youth. Sometimes I think about heaven and I hope I can thank all the people who loved me during my life, especially the people I took for granted. JBYM&TFP.