If my grandpa was still living, he would have celebrated his 95th birthday today. He was a good man, but full of piss and vinegar. He spent his working life as a mechanic for his parent’s business. Before my time, he owed a Harley but had a hard time with it because he was so short. His friends called him stub, not because of his small stature. They called him that because he was a very stubborn man. A trait that I also have.
For the first two years of my life, my parents lived with my grandparents. My grandpa was always up at the very crack of dawn drinking his coffee, clanging his spoon on the side of the mug. Rumor has it that he would wake me up and carry me around. But that is not a trait I possess, being a morning person. My grandma and dad were extreme night owls, so it seemed like someone was always awake in that house. I have always been conflicted in this area, I hate getting up early and don’t like staying up late. What does that make me?
I want to tell you that my grandpa was the most influential man in my life. But for good or bad, my dad probably was. My dad never spent any time with me, but my grandpa did. He took me fishing. He always told me to quiet down or I would scare the fish away. It took me many years to find out that wasn’t true.
On Saturday morning, he would pick me up and take me to the dump with him. The dump man was his friend and he would always ask if anyone dropped off any bike parts. Then my grandpa would take home the parts and make bikes for me. It was quite impressive. One day my grandpa took me to a store with him to pick out a bike kit. He put together a lovely new bike for me. This meant a lot because my grandpa did not go to public places. This was the only public place I remember him going to willingly, not out of obligation. My grandparents did pick me up to go out to eat, but we always went through the drive thru and ate our meals by the lake. He always drove 10 mph under the speed limit, he was never in a hurry. His life was simple in those days. My grandma didn’t drive so my grandpa would take her into town and wait for her in the truck.
My grandpa owned a little tree nursery. One day he was going to throw out a dead tree. I wanted to rescue it. I watered it a lot hoping to revive it. Then one day a healthy green tree was there. I saved it. Or so I thought at the time since grandpa put a healthy tree in its place. Too bad I still think overwatering is the answer after a long period of not watering. I don’t have grandpa’s green thumb. He also picked ground cherries for grandma to can. He would take us in the woods to go berry picking.
My grandpa made an ice shack with Mark. He also made a waiting house for us so that we wouldn’t have to wait at the bottom of our long driveway for the bus in the winter. One day when I was supposed to be in it, the waiting house blew into the ditch from the strong winter winds. I was feverish, mom thought I was hallucinating. Sure enough, it blew into the ditch right before the bus went by. Later this became a cat house for my cat colony.
Some days I wonder what my grandparents would think of the busy life I created. At times I covet the simple life of the unhurried. The time to sit and talk over a cup of tea. Or other things that don’t happen anymore…unannounced guests. My grandparents always had friends or family stop by to visit. I can’t remember a time where I stopped by to visit someone unannounced. I could probably get together with you in January. Oh wait, sorry my weekends are fully booked until March. Perhaps it will be this way some day when I am a grandparent.