My grandfather, raised on a farm, spent
his working years at a helicopter plant.
He rose at 4 a.m., left home by 5 sharp.
His lunchbox looked like a metal barn.
Inside: two turkey sandwiches on rye
slathered with cranberry sauce,
a banana, and a Thermos of black coffee,
all packed by my grandmother
when she returned from second shift
at the factory. For thirty years
he drove back roads from Pascoag
across the Connecticut state line.
He had heart bypass surgery in his fifties
to fix the disease that had killed
his twin. Insurance kicked in, nothing
out of pocket. He had three weeks'
paid vacation. One spring he used
his time off to build the wishing well
my grandmother had always wanted.
Most summers they visited us down south,
their silver Airstream camper a sideways
silo in front of our house. When he retired,
he had a pension, benefits, and more time
to watch Judge Judy
and help motorists
who were stranded—or lost. And when he died,
he left his wife a house, some savings,
and the memory of a man who never had
a bad word for his company or his boss.