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  • Robin Kastengren

All I Know About My Dad's Half

My dad’s father, my Hiya, remains a Good Guy in my memories. I really know nothing about him at all other than I thought his face looked like mine. He also always had a little treasure for me every time I saw him, each with a better story than the last for how it came to be in my hands. One of my favorites was a teeny tiny cardboard box. I forget what he called it, but it was something like a sample or a proof piece. Hiya gave me big jars of quarters for my birthday, but he also slipped me a quarter from time to time for no reason at all. That teeny box held about a hundred quarters.

I remember nothing at all about My Great-Grandma except her except her glasses, her hair, and a smile from her for me that didn’t come from the rest of the glasses and hairdo ladies. A million years later, her goofy glasses still pop up in magazines or in stores and I think about her smile.

My grandma, my dad’s mom, was SCARY AF, but she was never scary to me personally. For me, she had this room called a “pantry” that was filled with forbidden foods. However, there was this one spot where my cousins had Hawaiian Punch they were allowed to drink, and I could have some too. Plus, if the cookies were already open, I could have one as long as I didn't tell anyone. (I wasn't to open them myself or everyone would know it was me lol)

My aunt, my dad’s sister, drove the school bus by our house that one time and it was like a celebrity sighting. It did get very weird after that and we cannot have a relationship. Aunt B, you are a legend to Kindergarten Me and let’s leave it there for us.

My cousin with almost the same name as me. They used to say I was like you when they were laughing at me the most. I remember this one time at our house in Glenwood when you were at least forty years old in my memory (probably 18? 20?) and you were leaning on a tree drinking a beer. I noticed that you could beat the daylights out of anyone you wanted to and chose not to most of the time. They were inside the house making fun of you and I kinda wished you’d go in and beat the daylights out of THEM, but I get why you didn’t. Utah was weird AF, but the kids had so much fun and only remember that you looked like me and were hilarious. I remember that you were gentle and funny like my brother and hated when you had to beat the daylights out of people. Let’s leave it there for us.

My other two cousins: Life is really fucking hard sometimes. I hope you both have made it through the worst and are on to the best.

The rest of my dad’s family lives in my memories as scary men, fantastic glasses, perfectly coiffed helmet-hair, razor-sharp eyebrow pencil, and that old-timey glamour from smoking long cigarettes from fancy cases that you can’t enjoy these days.


And backyard croquet, horseshoes, weeping willow trees, ping-pong in the garage, and quarters in my pocket whenever anyone was mean to me.

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