Grandpa Bubs


Jamie was wide awake. He knew that it was past his bedtime, but the excitement was much more than what his little heart could take. He’d spent the last hour tossing and turning in bed, shaking his legs repeatedly trying to fall asleep. But sleep just wouldn’t come. He turned on his side and quietly watched the luminous second-hand of the wall clock complete a full circle in an efficient sweeping motion. There was still plenty of time to go before he actually had to get up. But for that, he needed to sleep first.  

The biting December wind rattled the window panes slightly as it gathered more speed.  As if on cue, the cold duvet ruffled slightly against Jamie’s feet; he giggled loudly as he felt tiny goosebumps develop over his arms and legs. He held his breath briefly as he heard Ted, his elder brother stir in his sleep. As Ted’s loud snores filled the otherwise quiet bedroom, Jamie slowly sat up on the bed. In the distance, he could hear the church bells toll ten times in quick succession. Jamie got off the bed and slid his feet into the tattered, yet comfortable pair of fuzzy slippers. These had been handed down to him once his brother's unusually large feet grew out of them. He walked across to the window, parted the curtains and peeked out through the frost-lined glass pane.  A thick blanket of fresh, snow from earlier in the evening covered the length and breadth of the ground. In the distance, Jamie could see the lights around the church dim down to a minimum. Despite the poor visibility, Jamie noticed small wisps of smoke escape from the chimneys of a few houses. "They must be warming them for Santa to slide down", he mused joyfully, as he watched a group of carol singers slowly disappear into the distance, their melodious chorus of “Silent night” providing a feeling of warmth on an otherwise cold and frosty Christmas eve.


"Yes, it’s almost here!", he thought, rubbing his tiny hands together with glee. His entire 3.5ft frame tingled with the excitement and anticipation about tomorrow. He’d always hoped for it, but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that it would come true so soon. It was going to be his first family christmas.  In the five years he’d celebrated the event, there had never been a period where everyone was around. His father, Clive, was a Colonel with the US Army and had been away on duty for every single Christmas so far. Not this time though. Jamie had even renounced all Christmas gifts he would receive and in exchange had requested that his father be home for the festivities. Though he wasn’t entirely sure if that was the reason that his father had refused a new posting, Jamie liked to believe that it was. His mother, Tracy had even pulled out all the stops and was making  some amazing roast turkey and honey-glazed ham for their Christmas dinner - something that Jamie had only seen on TV. But it wasn't just the food or the presence of his father that excited him the most. The most important reason was because this would be the first Christmas that Grandpa Bubs would be attending, since Grandma Marny had passed away two years ago.


Chandler Maylor was their maternal grandparent. However his rotund figure, cheery disposition and penchant for talking had earned him the name Bubbles, which soon got shortened to Bubs. And the name had stuck. There wasn't a single person in town who hadn't encountered Bubs and needless to say, he was held in the highest esteem. For little Jamie, Grandpa Bubs was more than just a grandparent - he was his best friend. Despite being the oldest and the youngest in their family, Grandpa Bubs and little Jamie got on like a house on fire. They were inseparable and his mother could be often heard complaining that baby Jamie preferred listening to Bubs over playing with toys or his elder brother.  Bubs, who was a Maritime sailor in his younger days, had lots of amazing stories to tell little Jamie. And unlike Ted, who was more outdoorsy, Jamie loved to listen. His brown eyes would often shine as Bubs put Jamie on his knees and regaled him with stories of his adventures on the seas and about the different people that he’d met on his many journeys around the world. Because their father was away a lot, both Grandpa Bubs and Grandma Marny would spend a lot of time at their house. However everything had changed when Grandma Marny had died.


His once frequent visits started to dwindle gradually, and eventually stopped. Jamie remembered how he used to perpetually pester his mother about Bubs to give him an answer. Finally, his mother had told him that Bubs had taken ill and was at the hospital. That image of a tired, frail and bony Bubs lying on that hospital bed with all sorts of wires and tubes connected from head to toe, was something that the then-five-year old Jamie had struggled to cope with. Even though he knew that Bubs wouldn’t be visiting any time soon, little Jamie continued to hope and pray that his beloved grandpa would get better in time for Christmas. After all, he’d promised Jamie a surprise for Christmas. That had been two years ago.


Christmas morning dawned with bright, blue skies and chirping red-breasted Robins. It had snowed again overnight, and most of the neighbourhood children were out making fresh models of Frosty, the snowman and having snow fights. Jamie woke up to the sound of Ted rushing down the stairs to open up his Christmas presents. He rubbed his eyes and let out a loud yawn. He put on his soft Terry cotton dressing gown, one of the few items that wasn’t a hand-down from his elder brother. As he tightened the gown, his whole body started to tingle again. The excitement, that he had been trying to contain for the past week, was starting to bubble up again and he wondered what surprise Bubs had in store for him. "Maybe it is one of those Santorini magic kits", he thought. Jamie had so badly wanted one ever since he’d seen the advert for it. As he skipped down the stairs, Jamie noticed that Ted had already opened up all of his presents and was on his way out to try the new sports bicycle their parents had got him. There were just three unopened presents left under the tree, and they all had Jamie’s name on them. With a smile on his face, Jamie leapt over the bottom three steps and ran towards the Christmas tree.


The first of the two smaller presents was from Ted. Jamie opened up the crinkled wrapping paper and frowned when he saw what it was. Ted had “gifted” him one of his older handheld gaming consoles. "Yet another hand me down", he thought, as he opened up the next present, which was from their cousin, Thomas. It was a collection of Enid Blyton books. Jamie’s frown turned into a smile. He loved to read. Eager to find out the contents of the impeccably wrapped large present, Jamie ripped through the packaging. His smile was replaced by a wider grin as he read the name on the box. It said The Great Santorini magic kit  and a picture of the famous magician dressed in his sparkling attire and top hat, adorned the length of box. Jamie quickly looked at the card accompanying the present. It was from his parents. They had gotten him a present after all. Gripping the box tightly, he quickly ran over to his mother who was busy in the kitchen and hugged her from behind.


A loud honk from the driveway caught his attention. Still clutching the present, Jamie rushed towards the front door and threw it open. His father and his brother were helping Grandpa Bubs onto a wheel chair. His grandfather flashed him a weak smile as his father pushed the wheelchair towards the door. Jamie felt his eyes start to well up. His once-chubby and almost Santa Claus-like grandfather cut a poor figure. His pale, wrinkled skin was stretched over his pencil-thin frame and covered in spots. If it wasn’t for the mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes and the familiar, yet slightly lop-sided smile, Jamie may not have even recognised Bubs. As he watched his father push the wheel chair to a corner by the fireplace, Jamie wiped his tears on the cuff of his dressing gown. The excitement that had been building up all week had suddenly vanished; like the stars extinguished by the rising sun. “Jamie…”, he heard his grandpa’s raspy voice call out to him.  He walked across to the fireplace and smiled at Bubs.  “Close your eyes…I have something for you!” said Bubs, flashing Jamie a smile that was still capable of exuding warmth and love.  As Jamie closed his eyes and stretched out his hands, he heard Bubs fiddle around with the bag on the side of his wheel chair. Feeling the sudden presence of a warm, fuzzy object in his hands, Jamie opened his eyes. Staring back at him was a small, black and golden brown puppy.


Holding the puppy, Jamie ran over to Bubs and hugged him tightly. “You remembered!”, he said to his grandpa, tears of joy starting to flow down his chubby cheeks. “Of course, Jamie. I’ve never broken a promise.” whispered back, his grandfather.


 [This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Today's prompt was : Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited. Hence, I've tried to capture  "Jamie's excitement" with this short piece. It is inspired by a true incident]


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