I showed him art books and showed how his understanding of the eyes and hands improved as the artists got older. He took it seriously and began to focus on the eyes and hands. His drawings demonstrated an understanding of perspective and shadow. At bedtime, he would ask me to tell him some of my stories, especially the ones that at that time I almost hit a hippopotamus. “This is a very funny story,” he would say. “You’re good at telling stories, Gigi.” I would like to think that I was studying my grandson, but I knew that he was the one who taught and inspired me.
When they got home and we communicated with them again via Skype or Zoom, I was searching for Newsies songs on YouTube and Bento and I was dancing together. I tried to sing with him, but I didn’t really know the lyrics and he always corrected me. Next, I was looking for a drawing of Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak and we both tried to copy it. My drawings were always poor and childish. It was always worthy of structure.
“You make cartoons,” he said to me sweetly. “But it’s okay, Gigi. I’ll show you.”
Lawrence Grobel, 74, is the author of 29 books, including the latest collection of short stories Schemers, Dreamers, Cheaters, Believers.