What do you get when you combine a hard-nosed WWII vet, a crazy stray dog, a pickup, and a string of foreclosed houses? The answer is a story that will playfully slam your nose against the proverbial passenger-side window at every unexpected turn. In this fictionalized memoir, author John Redstand takes readers on a rollicking tour of the last few months of his grandfather’s life. It’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.
A contract worker hired to clean out abandoned properties during the housing market crash of 2008, the narrator happily adopts double duty as chauffeur for Grandpa, who (despite his ornery protestations) is not allowed to drive anymore. These two simple tasks collide in a perfect storm of one humorous calamity after another.
Woven between the daily adventures of cleaning up supposedly vacant foreclosures, attempting to renew Grandpa’s license, and pursuing a decades gone by female counterpart, are Grandpa’s amusing and often absurd stories of World War II. An airplane mechanic stationed in Australia and the Pacific during the war, Grandpa fills their commutes with tales of stranded submarines, earthquake bombs, run-ins with Australian wildlife, and a disagreeable commanding officer.
Behind the story’s humor breathes a warm and touching ode to family, patriotism, and the Greatest Generation. Not so much of an elegy as an attempt to see the world through Grandpa’s peculiar and remarkable eyes, Driving Grandpa offers an amusing and endearing slice of life that is sure to bring a smile.
Driving Grandpa is the most heart-warming book I’ve read in a really, really long time. The story reminded me so much of spending time with my own grandparent’s and hearing all of their stories about them growing up. Especially, my own grandpa who was in the military. I was always that kid that sat cross-legged on the floor on pins-and-needles as my grandpa told me his old military stories.
The story feels so real and you feel like you’re actually there listening to these conversations, that you’re actually a part of the story. You feel yourself wanting to know the same questions that John asks his grandfather. And maybe that’s because it’s based off of real-life events and situations. It makes you yearn to call up your grandparents and listen to their stories, no matter how many times you’ve heard them already.
Driving Grandpa is written in short chapters and flows perfectly. Each chapter leads you to the next and you aren’t left wondering what’s going on, or confused on a time frame. You know exactly where you are when the chapter picks up and know exactly what is going on.
Driving Grandpa is a beautiful story about a grandpa who is just telling his stories to his grandson. He’s just wanting to spend time with the people he loves and cares for and is just trying to instill wisdom onto them. He doesn’t want to go to the nursing home, which is a lot of our grandparents. He wants to live the rest of his life in his own house going to help his grandson on his odd jobs for the bank.
Then you get to the end and the one thing happens that no one wants to happen. We all want to think that our grandparents are going to live forever and that they are always going to be there for us. And the sad truth is, this isn’t the case. We all pass away sooner or later and we all leave behind loved ones. As soon as I got to the last page my heart broke. I’d grown to love the older gentlemen and portrayed him as my own grandfather in so many scenes and then it happened, and it all came rushing at me like a freight train, the reality we all eventually face.
The story is humorous and very honest at some points. Sometimes you find yourself laughing at certain scenes and other times you find yourself in awe at the honesty. You never know which way a chapter is going to go, and it keeps you on your toes until the very end. You’re left hanging off the edge of your seat as if you’re actually there listening to the old war veteran telling stories of his hay-day.
My condolences to John and his family in losing a brilliant man who was an amazing story-teller. I’m so blessed to read a story about your grandfather and can’t imagine how it feels to lose a grandparent. Thank you for sharing your last few months with your grandpa with us. He sounded like an awesome man and a hoot to be around.
I look forward to more great things from John Redstand.