Root Beer...

He knew that I had been beaten and I was feeling pretty scared.
He took my hand and we headed out the door to pick up dinner.
He showed me secret cigarettes under the seat of his Catalina.
He asked me not to tell Grandma and I promised him I wouldn't.
He asked me at the restaurant if I'd like to have a Root Beer.
He could see that I was worried that my father would get angry.
He told me not to worry because my father would never know.
He tapped his mug against mine and we both drank our 'beers'.
He called the waitress over and asked her for another round.
He told me it was his promise to me that he would always keep.
He smiled as I tapped my mug on his and this one tasted better.
He paid the waitress and left a tip and we headed for the door.
He smiled at me when I took a nickel and put it on the table.
He took my hand and hugged me and I knew he was my friend.
He made a pact with me that day that he kept from everyone.
He went to work seven years later but didn't make it home.
He was the greatest man I ever knew in all my thirteen years.
He gave me one good memory of the best Root Beer I ever had.
He still taps his mug on mine though I'm the only one to hear it.
He was my father's father and he gave me the strength to survive.

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M. Scott Harding 2001