So about a hundred years ago, my grandmother scraped together every cent she had and bought my grandfather a beautiful ruby ring. I remember him wearing it when I was a kid. I thought it made him look like Pope John XXIII. What did I know about love and sacrifice back then?
We were sitting around a cluttered table in his Bay City, Tex., office over a plate of barbecue, this old Jewish rice farmer and I, and before either of us knew it, we had chewed our way down to the shank of the afternoon talking about Texas, and the Talmud, and the weather.
“I’m sure they told you that if you asked me the time, I’d tell you how to build a watch,” the old man said, chuckling.
Indeed they had. And in those very words.
The electricity had been out for over an hour, and the emergency lights at the corner of the bar – powered by an ancient, sputtering, apneatic generator just outside the back door — made the whole place look even more desperate, desolate and forgotten than usual, if that was even possible.
He’s fatter than I thought he’d be, and older, too. That long lock of bottle-blond hair, which no doubt in better days would have been coiled around his head like an old garden hose, dangles almost down his shoulder, another casualty of the cold wind in this goddamned place.
Seamus McGraw is the author of a few books, including the critically acclaimed The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone, and the forthcoming Betting the Farm on a Drought: Stories from the Front Line of Climate Change, due in April 2015 from The University of Texas Press.
Seamus has been a regular contributor to many publications, incuding the New York Times, Huffington Post, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Reader’s Digest, The Forward, Spin, Stuff, and Radar, and has appeared on Fox Latino.
He has received the Freedom of Information Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Golden Quill Award, as well as honors from the Casey Foundation and the Society of Professional Journalists.
A father of four, he lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Kren, his children, and a neighborly bear named "Fardels" with boundary issues.