Chapter Twenty: What Now?

Grandpa Gordon arrived to a quiet home after a very eventful last day at the base . He had told his family that he did not want any fuss. He just wanted to go to a nice restaurant with them. Christine was engaged to a nice young airman from Nellis AFB named Mark Spencer. Sam was dating his high school sweetheart Tammy Walker, so there would be six of them going to dinner. Grandpa Gordon smiled to himself with the thought of his family growing.

Grandpa Gordon had heard a lot of good things about Ruth Chris Steak, so they all decided that now was a great time to try it out. He knew it was going to cost him but you only retire once.

While eating their dinner, Grandpa Gordon brought up the subject of their family reunion in March. He asked if his children still wanted to be included in their plans.  Christine spoke up first with the excuse that she had college finals, and Sam chimed in with the excuse that his prom was coming up and there were a lot of school events that he did not want to miss on his final year.

Grandpa Gordon nodded that he understood. He added, “your mother and I are going to fly to Minneapolis this time, so she can save her vacation time for a trip to Europe. There is also something that I want to discuss a little later with your mother, and that is the question of her retirement.  She has worked over twenty years at her job now, and she is certainly eligible for retirement. But today is for fun subjects. I feel that since I took over command at the Nellis AFB in 1968, all I have been doing is work. Many are the times that I worked right through the weekends. As a result of my many duties at the base, I have missed out on so much of your lives”, he said as he looked at his two children.

“I would like to take advantage of this meal to make a new start. Over the years, your mother and I have done the best we could to participate in all of your activities.”

Grandpa Gordon looked over at his son and chuckled. “You have been the hardest to keep up with. Your three letters have kept this family very busy. I know I missed a few of your games, but I read about them in the sports section of the local paper. As a matter of fact, I have all the clippings saved in a box. I am hoping now that I will have time to finally get organized and put them all in a notebook or two.”

Sam looked up at his father with a tear forming in his right eye and stammered,  “I had no idea you were doing that.”

Grandpa Gordon looked at his children unabashedly, “I admit that I haven’t always been the best father to either of you, but my love for both of you has never wavered. I know life always hasn’t dealt us a good hand, but I have learned one thing and that is the Andersons have never been too good or proud to admit that they have been wrong or made mistakes.”

Grandpa Gordon added laughingly, “I am also going to take this opportunity to apologize for making this conversation so serious.  But one thing I have learned is that you have to take advantage of every opportunity in life to do the right thing.”

“I better stop talking”, as he looked kindly at Sam, “or my eyes will start tearing up.”

Mama Clara chimed in,  “Let’s make a toast to the Anderson family, past and present.” And they all klinked their glasses together. Everybody enjoyed their meals and the food was excellent. Grandpa Gordon could really get used to these steaks. They definitely put his own grilled steaks to shame. When the final bill was handed to him, he just about stroked out. Without the tip, the bill was $310.00.

After Grandpa Gordon re-mortgaged his house to pay the bill, they all went home. Since Christine no longer lived at home, her fiance dropped her off at her apartment which she shared with a girlfriend. Sam, who had just got his driver’s license took the Buick to drive his girlfriend Tammy home.

Not being particularly tired, Grandpa Gordon and Clara sat down in the living room to relax and spend some quiet time together.  Clara had kicked her shoes off and sat with her legs folded underneath her. Her legs had always been one of her strong points, now they looked particularly inviting to Grandpa Gordon. The  two top buttons of her dress were also undone and hinted of an ample bosom.  Grandpa Gordon had to admit Clara still rung his bell, it was all he could do to keep his hands off her.

As Grandpa Gordon’s mind raced, Clara looked at him from across the living room and smiled at him, knowing full well that he had been checking her out. She gave him a wink, stood up, and motioned for him to follow her. The next thing they were holding each other in bed as they made tender love to each other. They were no longer inexperienced newlyweds. They knew what worked and what each one liked, so the lovemaking was unhurried and highly satisfying.  When their desires were satisfied, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

The next day, Grandpa Gordon let Clara sleep in as he made breakfast for her. He had to admit it had been a while since he had cooked any food, so he was a little rusty. Considering he only ruined a couple of eggs, he thought he was doing pretty good. Finally, he had the food all ready to bring into the bedroom. The food was only slightly cold and the toast was a little dark, but all told he thought he had did pretty well.

Of course, Clara had been awake for quite some time. Who could sleep with all the noise her hubby was making in the kitchen. He was trying to be stealthy, but the stillness was broken by his swearing. The expletives that poured out of Grandpa Gordon were priceless and would have made a sailor blush when he dropped and broke the eggs on the floor. It was all Clara could to do to not ruin the moment by bursting out laughing. She had to stuff the pillow in her mouth to muffle the noise. When he finally finished and opened the bedroom door she managed to hide her merriment by stretching out languidly with a sleepy smile as if she had  just woken up.

Grandpa Gordon said with a big smile on his, “I made breakfast for you.”

Clara brightly smiled, “you didn’t have to do that, but it looks scrumptious”, after she choked down the horrid meal, smiling all the while. Clara asked what did he have in mind for the rest of the day?

“Well, I kind of would like to pick up where we left off last night,” Grandpa Gordon demurred.

Grandpa Gordon proposed, “I am sure you know that I am talking about you retiring so that we can do some traveling.  As long as there is an Air Base near where we want to visit, the travel is basically free. What is more, there are bases all around the world. We are both still young enough to explore and see the places we have talked about visiting. Our children are all grown up now. Christine is wrapping her college up, and Sam has full athletic scholarships to several colleges out west, so his future is assured. You have raised two great kids with little help from me. It is now time for you to enjoy life, no…for us to enjoy life.”

Clara looked at her husband and exclaimed, “OK, I will retire at the end of this year. We will go to the family reunion in March, and then we will get Sam situated with school. At the end of this year, it will make 25 years that I have been  at my job, so it  will mean a little something extra in my pension check. Besides, there are places in the surrounding states we never had time to see before. either”

In March, Grandpa Gordon and Clara flew to Minneapolis for the family reunion. They only stayed a few days. However, the celebration was somewhat subdued as his oldest brother James was not feeling well, and there was a deep concern in the family that he was hiding  the truth about his health.

A few months later, the truth came out that James had been keeping his health a secret when he passed away. There were no further reunions after his death, because he had been the driving force behind them.

I will cover Sam’s life more in depth in the second part of this book entitled “Papa Sam, the Next Generation.” Needless to say, his career path was all set before his mother Clara retired. Nothing can get in the way of maternal instincts after all.

I won’t regale the reader with all the places that Grandpa Gordon and Clara traveled to during their retirement. Needless to say, there weren’t too many places they missed. The only continent that they didn’t visit was Antarctica. Neither one of them really enjoyed the cold so they opted out going there. Eventually, the allure of the open roads and skies no longer enticed them, and they finally settled into their little house in Mountain’s Shadows.

To stay busy, Grandpa Gordon gave speeches for various ceremonies and for graduating classes at the AFB in Nellis. He also served as a consultant on various local news broadcasts. Clara mainly stayed busy babysitting her grandbabies. She had three grandchildren now. Her daughter Christine had two children, a son Thomas Spencer, and a daughter Julie Spencer, and Sam had one son, so far named Peter Anderson.

They had a good life together, and Grandpa Gordon and Sam finally worked out all of their issues. I will devote more time discussing these problems but from Sam’s perspective in the next section.

It is with much sadness and heaviness of heart that I leave the story of Grandpa Gordon. While he was not perfect, he truly tried his best. He was a loving husband and father, and he was loyal to a fault.

As this chapter in the Anderson Family Saga closes, I leave Clara and Grandpa Gordon floating lazily in their backyard pool, enjoying a well-deserved respite.