...because fiction is our greatest escape from reality...

Bye Grandpa


This is a very old picture of my grandparents.  Linnie Bell and James Cromwell. 

My grandpa passed away.  He’d been sick for a long time, but he was a stubborn man and you’d still find him sneaking out onto the golf course behind my parents’ house to find golf balls.  The last 24 hours have been rough, so I thought I’d share one of our funnier conversations.  I used to write them down because if anything, my grandpa was such a character.

He and my grandmother became Pentecostal Holiness missionaries and grandpa is somewhat famous in those circles as a faith healer.  This particular picture of them is unusual–had to have been before grandma threw away her makeup and grandpa… well, he never really stopped greasing back his hair. <g> 

Oh and he thought it was funny that I called him Reverend Grandpa, so that’s how he’ll be here.

This phone call was a few years ago–right before he came here to stay with his kids.  Oh, and he called me…


 “Hi Grandpa!”

“Well there you are.  Been leavin’ messages.  What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing that I know of.  Feel good in fact.  I wish you wouldn’t worry.”

“I’m not worried, I’m concerned.” 

“What is God telling you this time?”

“Don’t know exactly.  He’s been gabbing at me for weeks about you– got bad the last coupla days.”

“Well, maybe God is worried about my hand because I’ve been using a mouse so much and hurt it. 

“By God, put out a trap and catch that thing!”  

“Very funny, grandpa.  Or maybe he’s worried about the canker sore I got from tripping and biting through my lip.”

(He proceeds to start praying for my canker sore.  Tells the devil to mind his own business and get his poison out of my mouth.)

Grandpa coughs after the enthusiastic prayer.  “That canker is probably because of the “equitous of the mortiburn and the emphazudi of the peranim.”

“Uh, yeah.  Maybe that’s it.”

(My grandfather has been saying this phrase since before I was born.  He will not tell anyone what it means or even how it’s spelled.  I probably got it all wrong. )

“I’ve been in the hospital,” grandpa says.

“No one told me.  Are you okay?”

“That cancer is active again.  God took it out of my throat in 1951 and the devil keeps trying to slip it back in other places.  I’m not worried cause God always takes it back away and there’s nothing more fun than makin’ the devil mad.”  

“Do you need us to come get you?”

“No.  Linnie Bell is with me all the time now.”  (Linnie Bell had passed away fourteen years before at this time.) “I told her to go ahead and get someone to mow the grass at our heavenly house on the corner of Hallelujah, Glory and Divine Street.  I have a corner spot, you know, and a living room for squirrel hunting.”

“You plan to hunt squirrels IN your living room?”

“Sure.  Squirrel meat is the finest you’ll ever taste.  You know, girl, a squirrel once told me I was nuts.  I just told him he was delicious.”

“Grandpa, you aren’t eating squirrels are you?”

“Can’t catch em.  Nah.  I eat tamales every day.  Made a fresh batch of fourteen yesterday.  Did you know my esophagus collapsed?”

“Maybe it’s from the tamales.”

“Nah.  If I make em too hot, I just take my teeth out.”

Silence on my end. Huh?

“Sometimes I just eat tamale spread.”

“Are you making that yourself, too?  What’s in it?”

“Stuff.  Got tomatoes and olives and stuff.  Did you know I only weigh 140 pounds now?  I lost over a hundred pounds.  I can stick a whole pumpkin in the front of my pants.”

Silence from me on that one.

“People are calling me to preach but I’m too weak.  You know my teeth fell out one time right in the middle of a sermon.  They fell in a pile of sawdust.  I just picked them up and put them back in.  Told folks they’d been anointed.  Ever try to preach with a mouthful of sawdust?”

“Can’t say that I have, grandpa.”

“It’s not fun.”  He started coughing.  “I sold some machines and was too weak to carry them into the place.”

“Maybe the pumpkin in your pants was in the way.”

Silence on his end.

“You still selling those old check writing machines?” I ask, afraid I’d offended him.  Should have known better.

“Yep.  I have a hundred or so left.  I’m too old to go sellin’ them tho.  Can’t carry them, tho… cause… heh heh, you’re pretty funny.  Did I ever tell you I liked math?  I liked it cause it reminded me of money.  Did I tell you the offerings have been poor lately.  I’d like to have a Coke, but I’m too poor.  Can only afford Pepsi at the Shop n’ Save.”

He pauses… “So, you guys doing okay?  Have enough to eat?”

“Yes, grandpa, we’re good.”

“Well, I’m worried.  I have this food I want to send.  It’s food I can’t eat anymore.”

“Seriously grandpa, we’re good.” 

(He will send food.  Weird food.  The man lives on tamales.  He’s in his late eighties and still eats them hot every day.  I’m afraid of food he can’t eat.) 

“You got a website, grandpa, so I can show my friends how good looking you are?”

“I am, aren’t I?  Can’t help that, you know.  Can’t help being good looking.  Course, I’m losing my hair.”

“So Uncle Ray hasn’t made you a website?”

“He’s gettin’ old, too.  That Inter-thing won’t come here.  I need a website.  Maybe I should move.”

“We keep saying you can come here.  We’d love to have you here.”

“Yeah, but I got Ray here.  I’m gonna let you go now.  I’m tired and my throat hurts.”

“Go get some water.  I love you, grandpa.”

“Love you, too.  So,do you want the two or five dollar prayer now?”




  1. July 25, 2007    

    That is wonderful! Sorry about your grandpa. My sympathies.
    Your grandma and you look identical!! Beautiful people.

    Sometimes I wish I would have written down conversations with my grandparents.. I can recall the humor and the feeling of happiness but not the exact words.

  2. CJ CJ
    July 25, 2007    

    So sorry about your losing your grandpa, but you’ve got some wonderful memories of him. You’re right – he was a character.

    I oftten wish I could have known my grandparents. Both of my grandmothers and one grandfather passed aware before I was born.

    Michele’s right. You do look a lot like Linnie Bell.

  3. July 26, 2007    

    Oh, sweetie… I’m so sorry. I wish I lived closer to you so I could offer you some help. Like make your family a casserole or something. Or hire someone to make a casserole, because you would probably be as scared of my cooking as you were of the food he tried to pawn off on you. 😉

    You look so much like Linnie Bell. Wow. I love old photos like that. Reminds me of my grandparents wedding photo.

    Lovely post, Rinda. Now I need a tissue.

  4. July 26, 2007    

    Well, I love hearing that about myself and Linnie Bell. I never really noticed the resemblance until family started bringing it up and grandpa called me Linnie once. I’ll miss him. 🙂

  5. July 26, 2007    

    (((Rinda))) I’m so sorry for your loss.

  6. July 26, 2007    

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandpa. That was a great story you shared.

    And like the others, the first thing I noticed when I came to this page was the photo and man do you look like your grandma! I actually thought it was you at first. (Why, I don’t know. Guess I need more coffee.)

    Thinking of you…

  7. Shelia Shelia
    July 26, 2007    

    Good job capturing Grandpa’s phone call. They were always interesting, weren’t they? 😉

  8. July 26, 2007    

    Nothing really helps when we grieve for loved ones but you can rest assured that your grandpa is happy in his “heavenly house on the corner of Hallelujah, Glory and Divine Street.” That was a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it.

    You do bear an uncanny resemblence to your grandmother.

  9. Tara Tara
    July 27, 2007    

    That was beautiful, and very funny. Sounds like many of the conversations I’ve had with him.

  10. July 27, 2007    

    Ohhh, Rinda. I’m sorry your Grandpa passed away. I wish I could give you a hug.

    He was a hoot! I can just imagine your face during these phone calls. Glad you have these good memories, too. I love you, kiddo.

  11. July 28, 2007    

    I know everone els has said it, but you look just like your grandmother!

    And these conversations with him are great!

  12. July 28, 2007    

    I’m so glad I wrote them down after getting off the phone. It’s nice knowing people are getting such a fun glimpse into his personality. He was most definitely a keeper. 🙂

  13. July 28, 2007    

    Sorry I’m late to post…ya know, Tay and all….

    I agree, you look amazingly like Linnie Bell…however…. I see you in the Reverend’s face and I hear your ‘voice’ in his. He had a wicked sense of humor and a great way of telling a story in his own way. You may have gotten more from him than you realize.

    I know your relationship with him was complicated, and I’m glad you two got to have pleasent conversations before the end. It was obvious he loved you.



  14. July 28, 2007    

    You have his eyes (I meant to say that).


  15. July 28, 2007    

    Thanks, Kathy. Several people have said if we put his eyes on her face. And that curly hair of hers. I shouldn’t straighten mine.

    I’m emailing about Tay. Hugs to you, too!

  16. July 30, 2007    

    Oh honey! I’m soooo sorry. I know how much you loved your Grandpa. If you *ever* need to talk, give me a shout, K? I’d call you right this sec, but I don’t want to intrude…

    LOVE you!!


  17. Barbara C. Barbara C.
    August 4, 2007    

    I read two of the entries about your grandfather and I think you should write a book called “On the corner of Hallelujah, Glory, and Divine Street” about him.

  18. August 4, 2007    

    I have this friend, Sharon Sala, who consistently insists I write books about my family. She said we were like the redneck Steel Magnolias. heh heh

    My grandfather was so very individual–drove you nuts, but you loved him nonetheless. 🙂

  19. August 6, 2007    

    Rinda – I’m so so sorry about your grandpa. Grandpas are so special.

    And yes, must agree you look A LOT like your grandma!

  20. Julia Hinkle Julia Hinkle
    October 10, 2008    

    I read this story today and laughed until I cried. It was so like Dad. He was a mess. I really wish you would write the story of your nutty family. The pros and the cons. I know it would be a best seller!

    The inner person, their style of life, and those around them make them who they are. We all have the good traits and the bad traits, but it is what makes us – us. Each individual makes their mark in this path. One of my favorite stories is the movie, “Its a Wonderful Life.” We may think our life has been of no value, that we’ve made no difference, but we all do and have. Each Person is of great value and leaves such a beautiful mark on lives. It doesn’t matter if we are well known or not known at all, somewhere, sometime, somehow, each Soul makes a difference to someone.

    The love and acceptance we give – will return. Allowing each person the right to be who they are and to be how they are – is the greatest gift we can give.

    I love you for writing these things about Dad. I helps me remember good things.

    You are loved Baby, lots, bunches and gobbs – for always…….Mom

  21. Julia Hinkle Julia Hinkle
    October 10, 2008    

    Bye the way – you are Mom’s twin…….I have always said you look just like her. She was a wonderful person – just like you…..

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