Got a soul-mate and/or a best friend? What is it about that person that you love best? Describe them in great detail — leave no important quality out.
Written about husband — check, check. Written about best friend — check. I need to think of another significant person in my life to write about, and I choose my grandfather. Both he and my grandmother passed away two-three decades ago, but I can still clearly picture many times with them.
I admired my grandparents each for different reasons, and always enjoyed staying with them. We lived outside of Cleveland, and they in Akron, Ohio, so I often spent weekends with them. The first home of theirs I visited (and remember) was set in the lovely suburb of Spring Lake and was special because with the help of some building-savvy relatives, my grandfather built the house. It had a wall of windows on the back which overlooked an orchard which I think predated the house. It was a beautiful view. In the spring time we would seek our and kill tent worms in the trees by burning them out with an acetylene torch. Exciting stuff for a 4-5 year old. That house represented my feeling that my grandfather could do anything he set his mind and hands to. When he had a heart attack in the mid ’50’s when he was about sixty (I guess I was about 8-9), they were advised to move to a place where less physical labor was needed, so they did, and I think we all missed that house. He certainly had no heart problems again until he was well into this eighties. After living in a smaller place for a few years, he and my grandmother retired in 1957, and moved to Florida, into a new residential area south of Tampa.
Then when I went to stay with them, it was for about three weeks in the summer. They’d come up for a visit, and then take me and my sister back with them. I remember well the long drives down there, no air conditioning in the car, no videos, no books on tape, no I-95 all the way.
My grandfather was the strong, silent type. He was like an anchor for everyone who knew him. He loved to work with his hands, and to fix and build things. If he didn’t know how to do something, he’d figure it out, and usually successfully. He kept plenty busy in retirement, but always had to time talk with, explain what he was doing, and let me help out. Both he and may grandmother were great a playing games with us too, and my grandfather was particularly pleased when I became a good Pinochle player — his favorite card game.
As my grandfather often said, he was “only a farm-boy”, buy he was more than that. Although only finishing eighth grade before working on the farm in Horseheads, New York, he was an avid follower of current events, and while he did little reading for pleasure (if any), he always read U.S. News and World Report magazine from cover to cover and the daily newspaper. His curiosity led him to be a quick learner, and a good listener. When he decided to offer an opinion or advice, it was always worth listening to because he’d thought about before he spoke. I rarely saw him angry, but he’d express his displeasure or disappointment.
He was an active member of his new community helping to start and the Rescue Squad since there was no nearby ambulance service; he served on various committees and was a good friend to many people who needed help. He was not a religious man, but believed in right and wrong, in helping those who needed it and being a good friend. He was a kind grandfather but expected good, respectful behavior, and encouraged us to be the best we could be and believed we should get as good an education as possible.
He often said that during his lifetime he thought he’d seen it all — the first car, electric lights, the miracle of flight, space exploration, telephones, radio, TV — so much in one lifetime. I think he died before personal computers, cell phones (and Face Time, especially) took hold — that would have amazed and entertained him too!
His idea of love was commitment, and in his seventies he still liked to hold hand with my grandmother. But more importantly, when she was stricken with Alzheimer’s, he wouldn’t even consider the idea of putting her in a care facility when she needed full-time care, and it was he, my mother and my teen-aged sister who cared for her. Unfortunately, his efforts (and I think his grief and worry) finally did lead to a final fatal heart attack. A few years after his death, even with round-the-clock care at home, my grandmother too passed away.
Thank God for such wonder grandparents in my life.