“But there is at least one thing we can do, and that is to visit our grandparents more often!” – gapawa
My response to the comment above remained me of how important my grandfather was to me. If you would, indulge me as I take a short sentimental journey back in time.
My PaPa would have 100 years old this coming August. I lost him exactly 20 years ago (March 1996). He wasn’t my “blood” grandfather though he married my grandmother before my birth so he was, for all practical purposes, my “real” grandfather and I was one of his many “real” grandchildren.
My Papa was a bull of a man, short and stocky, built like a cinder block. He had a smell like no other smell I have ever encountered a combination of Vitalis hair tonic, earth and cow manure. It was, to say the least, an original odor.
He lived in the house he was born and raised in on land that had been in his families possession for 200 years, land that once numbered in the 1,000’s of acres but was now a manageable 275 acres. He raised beef cows, white-faced Hereford’s to be exact intermingled with a few black Angus while holding down a “plant” job manufacturing some sort of widget in the city 45 minutes away.
He left his hometown, the farm and his family and fought in World War II. He was in his mid-twenties, had never been anywhere and found himself on a ship headed to Normandy. It was never clear if he was part of the D-Day Invasion. He never spoke about this time, but we all knew, whatever it was that he saw and experienced, it had a profound effect on this very quiet man for the rest of his life.
He lived a very thrifty existence. No big splurges, a new truck every 10 years or so and a new Buick for my grandmother. No cruises or European vacations, maybe a planned week at the beach staying in his cousin’s house that he would always cut short after three days because a week was too long to be away from his cows. When he passed away and his estate was being settled he had several hundred’s of thousands of dollars sitting in two savings accounts. No one had a clue. There was nothing sinister about this. If anyone ever needed help he was always the first one to reach into his pocket. We just had no idea the “cow business” was that profitable.
I loved this man. I loved the days and weeks we spent together mowing fields, chasing cows, mending fences, and fishing for Brim with cane poles and earthworms in the muddy cow pond. There weren’t a lot of words spoken but words weren’t necessary. The sounds emanating from the trees, creeks and fields were enough to fill the space and besides my grandmother was waiting in the house ready to talk non-stop about how bad we smelled, guess who died or who was marrying who (the woman could flat talk).
Happy 100th birthday PaPa. Thank you for being my friend, my guide and the best “real” grandfather a kid could ever have.