Grandpa Doug outfishing me on Twin Lakes.
The last breath my Kia Rio took wasn't what I'd have expected.
It wasn't a sputter, a spurt. There was no loud pop. No banging or clanging.
She just slowed to a crawl as I pumped the gas pedal and cars behind me started honking. As I turned the wheel and rolled to a stop in the grassy median there was only one thought on my mind. It wasn't an "Oh-crap-this-car-is-all-I-got-to-drive" thought or an "I'm-gonna-be-late-for-my-appointment" worry.
When, I fretted, had I last checked the oil?
It was the first thing I thought of every time my car broke down. It was the first thing Grandpa had taught me, even before teaching me to drive. Check the oil and check it often -- every time you fill up, he'd say.
I knew it was the first thing he'd ask when he showed up to rescue me, yet again.
There's one thing I've always dreaded: Grandpa's disapproving "told you so."
Or a "You know better, Taryn Anna." Because I do know better.
"How many times have I told you?" So many times, Grandpa. Too many times, Grandpa.
I knew I should have checked my oil. I meant to. But when was the last time?
It was. The first thing he asked.
I fibbed and said a silent prayer as Grandpa hooked the Kia up to his tow dolly for another trip to the Athol repair shop.
Please not the oil, please not the oil, I prayed.
When the mechanic said timing belt, I about jumped out of myself. It was, for a moment, a joyous occasion. Of course, I didn't know what the hell a timing belt was. And bent valves didn't seem too foreboding.
I didn't care what was wrong with her, as long as it wasn't the oil. Death hadn't even crossed my mind.
Grandpa had never mentioned timing belts. I know now that I should get them changed at least as often as I change the oil. Every 72,000 miles or so.
As I'm getting older, my stubbornness is waning. Instead of fearing a "told you so," from Grandpa I go to him for help expecting it and hoping to learn from it. I know the days are too precious few that he'll be around to remind me I know better.
To ask me how many times he told.
To wonder if I'm paying attention, listening. If it really does go in one ear and out the other.
Sometimes I still kid myself thinking there is something Grandpa could learn from me. Like how to fish my lake. I should have known the first man to ever take me fishing still had lessons to teach and little to learn.
I should have known he'd show me up. I should have known he'd have more luck with a little maggot and his trademark line twitching than me with a meaty Werner's Wiggler and my lucky crappie jig.
If there's one thing I should know by now it's that Grandpa knows. He always knows.
He might think it goes in one ear and out the other, but it doesn't. Sometimes the things he tells me seem to take a little detour in my brain, but his advice sticks. In my heart, forever.