Curiously, I don’t have such a good memory. My sister & my wife are both continually relaying stories to me of things that happened in the past, or something that they “told” me that I have no recollection of. Sometimes important things…and some times not. However, the past few days I have been flooded with memories of my Grandpa. I’m not sure what that says…but I think it must mean that I keep those memories someplace special. It’s those special memories that I want to share with you today.
From the time I can remember we would go to Kirbyville. Usually on Saturdays or sometimes just for Sunday afternoon, but whenever you got there you could count on a few things. Grandpa was outside working…and grandma was in the kitchen cooking. I remember that there was something very relaxing and comforting about that place. It was as if time stood still. Walking up to the Post Office to get the mail and getting those little colored chocolate candies in a plastic wrapper at the store. I can remember my grandpa, in his overalls, and tan work boots, heading up the path to the barn…with a dog and me or my cousins in tow. I can remember he would like to whistle as we walked up that way…across the little bridge…over the creek…to the chicken house.
I remember the time that I needed to do a leaf collection for school…and we came back from a hike with over 90 varieties that he had identified. I remember one summer all us boys went down and spent the week, we made rope…and grandma made donuts, (I think we might have broke the rock wall in front of the house…or at least fixed it) That is when I first remember him saying something that, now that I think about it…he said alot when us boys were around… “One boy is a boy…two boys are half a boy…and three boys are no boy at all.” Well there were four of us down there that summer…
I remember him making hollyhock dolls for the girls, and teaching us to crank an old ice cream maker; I remember standing up and riding between his legs on an old Snapper mower. I remember the first few times that he let me drive it by myself…and him trying to teach me how to make square corners. I still don’t know how he did that. I remember how I felt the first time I let my son ride with me on a mower just like it, just like I did with my Grandpa. For some reason when I got a place of my own I bought a riding mower just like his…for a yard way to small for a rider…but I had it anyway…and I taught both my kids how to mow with it…just the way he did me and my cousins.
I remember cutting brush and making a bon fire to burn it, I remember us going down to “Murder Rock” and looking around and the stories he would tell. I remember climbing up in the loft of the old barn that used to be a canning factory. I remember going to the Branson Christmas Parade each year…and coming back for Chili…that was always the place to show-case your new girlfriend or boyfriend. I remember the first time I brought Cindy down there for that. I remember the family reunions at Springfield Lake…and how much fun we had eating and singing. I remember asking my wife to marry me there one year.
I remember my dad and grandpa taking me out to learn how to drive a standard transmission…I remember how he laughed at me…killing it on a gentle slope of a hill…but before we were through…they took me over to Knox Avenue (going up the hill there by Candlestick Inn).
I remember Grandpa showing us how they used to carry shingles up to the roof. One bundle on each shoulder…and walked straight up the ladder with no hands…(That was probably worth about two years worth of bad knees later on in his life). I remember that we always knew that he loved us, although rarely spoken. He always had a twinkle in his eye…and a joke or a tease. I remember taking naps at grandpa’s house…right after lunch, and him reading the readers digest in that big ole rocking chair.
And sitting right next to him at the dinner table…and learning to eat Okra or beats or something else grown in that garden. I remember running the tiller…digging potatoes…picking green beans…and gooseberries, rhubarb and lettuce and asparagus.
I remember him keeping a little note book. He was ahead of his time in that respect, he was the first of, what is now known as a blogger (that’s web logger for all you non-computer folks) He wrote down what he did each day every day….who he talked to…and what the did in the garden and if it rained…etc.
What patience. He was the model of that….after all he was married to my Grandma for 66 years…
I remember his quiet strength, and optimism, and pragmatic common sense. I remember seeing him grieve and I remember feeling his strength in good times and especially bad. I remember how big his hands were…and how he taught me so many things, like how to drive a nail, or build a barn, or raise a family. He taught us how to do the jumble, and showed us how to work and showed us how to laugh, and break twine with our chest…or kick a broom. As long as I can remember he didn’t have a fulltime paycheck…but he still had money put away to take care of him and grandma for all these years. What an example.
I remember how he was quick with a smile and that twinkle in his eyes and I remember the way he fought to stay here with us…and when that twinkle was gone.
I remember all these things… but most of all I remember how much I admired him…and how much he loved us and how much I loved him.
Friday, April 29, 2005
My Grandfather passed away this past week. This was the last photo of him, you can still see the twinkle in his eyes. This was taken on Friday...When I saw him again on Tuesday, I told him that I loved him...he told me that he loved me too...and that is the last time he responded to anyone. He died on Friday.