Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Frank speaks sign language

Frank never was loud about himself. He was the middle child after all, the second son, the second grandchild and in fact the second great-grandchild on the paternal side of his family line. They tend to be quiet. Yet that doesn't mean they didn't stand out on their own talents. Grandpa Joe recognized early on that Frank spoke sign language. Indeed, he respected that fact.

There was always this clear glass cookie jar in Grandma and Grandpa Cosgriff's kitchen, on the second tier of a triple shelf by the back door. It was about eye level for a toddler, someone about three years old, right where he could spy the crunchy, sweet delights beckoning beyond that clear exterior and metal cover. One with a red wooden knob. One always filled with oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, or cocoanut windmill cookies.

Frank never, ever, took a cookie without permission. Grandpa Joe, Great Grandpa Joe to him, always sat in his fancy carved wooden dining room chair by the kitchen table, aligned perpendicular with the back door but pushed right up against that kitchen table, guarded the cookie jar. Frank would toddle behind him, stumble towards the back door, the heavy wood inside door closed during the winter but opened to the latched screen in the summer, and would stop, season notwithstanding, to the side of the cookie jar, and wait.

Joe would give it a moment, knowing Frank was there. Then he'd take a draw on his cigarette, and glance towards the door. Frank would look him in the eye, raise a finger on his left hand, and point at the lid of the cookie jar. Joe would draw another puff on his smoke, then he'd nod slightly. Only then would Frank open the lid on the cookie jar, take a cookie, and toddle away munching on it.

Joe would laugh. "Frank speaks sign language", he'd say.

They understood each other, them adversaries, 82 years and generations apart.

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