My grandad was my best friend.
I’m always told stories of how I was born too early.
My grandad would come from his job at North Island Naval Air Station and bring me long stem roses. The nurses would coo because he was a giant man, clutching a tiny baby he called his “little loaf of bread”
He stood just over 6ft tall with a perfect Afro picked to the GODS! He had protested with other black Navy officers for the right to wear his hair in its natural state as he served the country.
My grandfather Nathaniel Gidron is the reason there is adequate housing for Black Navy servicemen.. he was a baddd man.. When I was a kid I didn’t grasp the scope of my grandad. I knew he wore he wore suits and ties to work, rubbed elbows with General Colin Powell. When I was 8 he told me about meeting Bill Clinton at work one day. Bill Clinton had come to North Island Naval Air station and he met with the president of the North Island Black Association and that was my grandad. He flew to Washington once and all I really remember was I got to sleep on his side of the bed when he took business trips and that’s really all I cared about. At home he was grandad. And he was my best friend.
I really had a rough childhood with my mom and dad (I don’t like to discuss because I don’t want people to pity me one day I will but not now. )
My nana and my grandad really strived for me to have a “normal life” I lived with my nana and grandad a lot of my life because my parents just couldn’t get it together.
I was blessed to have my grand parents strive to provide whatever kind of “normal” they could. My mom died when I was 11, my dad shortly after when I was 13.
I asked my grandad to adopt me shortly after my father passed away because.. even though biologically this man is not my grandfather. This man loved me from the moment I came into this world. I came into the world fighting for my life and this man gave me flowers.
That was just the kind of man he was. He didn’t marry my nana until I was 8 years old. They dated for several years so really I was just the baby of the woman’s daughter he was dating but he loved me from day one. Those days I was in the nicu.. he was talking to me about politics and sports and life. I know this because that’s all he talked about.
He was a navy man through and through. He woke up at the same time everyday. Kissed his wife, dressed for the day, Read the paper, made the same breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits and sausage. He’d sit in his chair, fold his paper out and turn on the tv.. as soon as he’d turn on the tv I would fly down the stairs.. I’d make a bowl of cereal and he’d look down at his glasses and say
“Hey bub” (I had changed my name to bubba at 7 or 8 years old. I was an alien from the planet melmac and my name was bubba that’s just the way it was.. I had a very active imagination, told great stories and my grandad listened to them all and remembered the details of my every changing imaginary world.. so since I changed my name to bubba. I was Bubba naturally as I matured it was shorted to “Bub”)
Every morning he’d look me over greet me with “Hey Bub” and proceed to tell me what had happened. He ingrained in me early on that it was important to understand the world around me, know the people running the country and to love the Lakers. He was a quite man but he could talk about politics and sports. We watched the news together in the morning and argue about everything because he was so blunt and never sugar coated things for the sake of my feelings. He taught me hard life lessons but he was the most caring man… he also looked liked Charley Pride
Whenever we would go cross country people would get crazy in the south and offer us free meals and everything else it was hilarious 😆
He looked traveling, good music, good food and good people.
He told me about his Naval travels. He was in the navy at a time when all you could be was a cook and the highest rank you could earn enlisted was a Chief. He was a Chief and an outspoken one at that! He went to Italy as a young man and ate at the same restaurant Lucky Luciano ate. He told these stories of mobsters and how he studied them their clothing, the fine shoes and how that inspired him to dress, eat and cook when he got back to the states.
He told me stories and showed me pictures of Josephine Baker and other beautiful black actresses to make me embrace my beauty. He could cook, he taught me some cooking.. well I watched him cook and I ate the food..he taught me to read when I was about 3 and he taught me to write shortly after that.
He treated me like a princess. If I wanted it. I got it. No questions asked. He had 2 grown daughters and 3 grown sons who all said that by the time he adopted me “he had gone soft” driving me to high school all four years when I lived in walking distance. Prepping my snack, tucking me in every night saying “that’ll do pig.” Like the farmer from “Babe”
I beg to differ 🤷🏾♀️ I still had to be home by 10pm because “The only the open after 11pm is legs” all the parties got good when I left. I HATED IT! when I was grounded.. it was for real NO TV, NO PHONE.. I had to communicate with my friends via loose leaf paper at school.. for like 3 months once because I got a “C” and my report card said I talked in class.. “I’m not sending you to that schools to socialize! You stay in till the next REPORT CARD” I did hard time!!! that was like sophomore of junior year and it had to be October or something because I just remember having to watch Dodger baseball and crying because a game lasted so long and he would go on and on about “The great Vin Scully” 😂 I was fine watching the lakers because I was in love with Kobe but I can’t do baseball. This is
He kept to himself. Enjoyed Jazz, documentaries fine brandy.. that just sat in the cupboard of came out when that one navy buddy would visit. Other than that sometimes he would sip wine and tell me about music. All kinds of music, the blues, the B.b Kinf, Fats domino, Howlin’ wolf, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton.. he’d seen them all play and he’d play them for me. ON A RECORD PLAYER! I’d dance in the living room howling to Otis Redding “I’m just a love man.. call me the love man”
I would sing Elvis Presley. I was obsessed with Elvis to the point my grandad took me to GRACELAND every YEAR. He’d say “You know he’s racist right?” And I’d say “it’s the music.. I can’t explain it grandad I just love Elvis and Graceland” and he say “You’re about as crazy as round lizard but I love you.” That was that.. I was wild and crazy I dance to what I wanted and he loved me.
I got to see what a mom a dad was like through my Grandparents. My nana is a preacher and my grandfather was a worldly renaissance man that fell in love with a preacher and supported her and loved. He went to church because he loved his wife and she was a pastor. He had his own beliefs about religion but he supported his wife. My grandad and nana were best friends and he treated her like royalty.
Pulling out her chair, opening her door, complementing how beautiful her complexion was. Passing by and smacking her bottom, calling my nana cute pet names. They never argued in front of me. He never missed an anniversary.. he was that guy that shopped on Christmas Eve and I would make fun of him “you realize Christmas is the same every year” he’d ignore me and continue shopping.
Everyone he met loved him as much as I did. He was the crossing guard for the elementary school. He was Mr Nate and everyone loved him. The person who loved him crossing them most of all was Brooklyn
Once again he was holding a little baby born too soon with so many problems and they became best friends.
I loved my grandad and my grandad loved me but the bond he and Brooke shared. That was magic.
I was wild, working, trying to find myself. Trying to do everything but what I needed to be at the time and he and my nana helped me raise Brooke. I couldn’t have raised her without them.
11/21/2011 I had been hanging out with my grandparents I saw them every single day so it was just a day. I had told my grandad on the phone earlier in the day that I was having a life crisis.. I was out of money and needed money for “Eyelashes and gases for work” and he gave me the money and said “I was going to take you nana on date now she has to eat off the dollar menu.. you cold blooded Bub.” I took Brooke and the money went home and turned my ringer off because I worked for a plastic surgeon at the time and I was always on call. I took a short nap and woke up. There was a million text messages and phone calls from my nana.
I read “Nates dead, Nates not breathing” I died too at that moment.
They were heading out for their date, she went to check the mail. He died in his favorite chair about to spend time with his favorite girl.. perfect.
I remember losing my mom and dad that pain was awful. This.. this was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life. My world ended. My grandfather was my superhero. He saved me from everything! Bad relationships, bad cars, you name it.. he protected me from it. I was 26 and never felt so alone, scared, hurt, just lost.
I continued to work plastics everyday after work I was used to calling him to tell him my day. After he died I went to the mortuary where his body was and just sat with his body and talked about my day. They told me when I was I a baby he stayed till nurses kicked him out. I stayed till the owners told me I had to leave.
I was devastated. My grandad was my life. I spiraled out control with drugs, drinking, anything to numb my pain or to feel I did it. I was not ok for a good 2 years. I tattooed my grandads face on my forearm so he would be with me everyday. That was the only way I could face my grief. I would yell at Brooke for mentioning his name. It was just a bad time.
I was just hurting. I lost my dad. My best friend. Confidant.. I told my grandad before I told anyone.. I told him EVERYTHING! “I pierced my tongue… don’t tell nana” and who could forget “I have entire arm sleeve tattoo.. don’t tell nana and don’t judge” or the “I having a baby..I know you’re driving cross country… don’t tell nana”
I had Verizon make me a cd of his voicemail so I could listen it sometime when I drove from Beverly Hills. I didn’t have anyone to tell my plastic surgery stories too so I would just pretend to leave voicemails. One day I didn’t need to anymore.
My family stopped celebrate Thanksgiving after my grandfather died because he was a cook so he looked cooking and he made these amazing thanksgiving spreads and no one could do it like him. He would cook all night and talk to me.. I would eat all night Wednesday crack jokes and thanksgiving morning since I loved thanksgiving so much he would let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast first.. it was always Pecan pie.. watch the thanksgiving day parade and I would judge the floats, sing with the music have several outfit changes and he would watch tv and look at me like I was a creature of uncertainty shake his head and smile.
When he died.. the holidays died. He was the magic. We finally started celebrating on 3 years ago we called it “papagiving” I called him grandad but Brooke called him papa. So we would make his favorite food and give thanks for God giving us “papa” for 76 years.
I owe so much of who I am to my grandad. This morning. I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t sad. I think he would actually be proud of me. Before he died I wasn’t in the greatest point of my life and his only instructions were “Get your RN and take care of that baby, she’s tiny human, she has feelings, rights a voice, she didn’t ask to come here. You brought her here you take care of that baby! Take care of that baby.”
I’m not an RN.. I stopped trying to achieve that goal because that’s not my goal that’s my family’s goal.. the other stuff I do that times two now. I have tow beautiful babies that I take care of and I know he looks down proud. I’m an adult happy with my life taking care of the babies I brought into the world and teaching them about life.
I didn’t appreciate the things he was teaching me when he was trying to me. I didn’t appreciate those 3 week trips cross country in a van
but his family was important to him and he would save his money, fix up that van and pile up to drive to see his sisters and the woman who raised him after his mother passed away when he was 4. He made that trip.. I hated that trip.. I dreaded it because I was alone and had no one my age to talk to so I would have to listen to these stories.
I’m so glad I listened. I glad my grandad enriched those lessons about family into me. Family being the most important. I miss my grandad and my heart is heavy today.. I never really expressed all this I guess I need this.. I’m so grateful God put my grandad in my life. The was my first super hero. I love him and I miss him dearly.
There will never be another Nathaniel Gidron
Rest In Peace Grandad..