Friday, July 01, 2011

Ode to the one and only Grampa

I know I have been out of the loop these days - between Stoneyhaw and a new job, I am still getting my whole time management thing figured out (it's been a while for me on the whole being employed front). So I hope you will indulge me while I put the Stoneyhaw-related blogging on hold and talk about my Grandfather for a quick moment here.

My grandfather took a bit of a tumble yesterday, and is currently dealing with a broken hip. He hasn't been doing too well recently anyway, and while all of us have kind of been holding our breath for a little while now that he actually *has* taken the feared fall, it's not easy to take.

It is, however, easy to get caught up in the recent image of him and his current difficulties, but I have decided to spend today thinking about him as I grew up - as my beloved (and actually my only) grandfather. While he's still here.

First things first. My grandfather is (and always will be) an Iowa farm boy. (So that's where I get it!) I have a GREAT picture of him in a bathing suit at the dapper and dashing age of 20 or so, but alas, it is in storage at my parents' house - along with many of my pictures of him 20 or 30 years ago. sigh. His house and shop have bits of Iowa memorabilia spread throughout, even though I do believe he has spent his entire adult life out of that particular state. He taught me how to parallel park on his mower. And while I can parallel park amazingly, somehow the mower bit didn't stick because I still managed to bash in the back of my manfriend's truck with MY mower....

He is a redhead, and hasn't a single gray hair on his head. It's blond now but retains a fair amount of ginger. And he still has hair. He is a dapper man. My sissypants inherited the gingerness. And the full head of it. Slightly jealous...

Bu let's move on (in no particular order).

He met and fell in love with my grandmother, and they have been married for 61 (I think. I know my family will chime in here if I'm wrong) years. Even if I'm off by a year or two, good god that's a long time. A looooong time. And they still talk! (although both of them are suffering a fair amount of hearing loss and that might be helping their case...hehe).

He is a Navy man, and even though I never saw them until I was older (he always wore long sleeved shirts - even in the heat of summer!), he has some amazing tattoos that have withstood the test of time and are rare nowadays.

While grampa was a school teacher, he is an amazing woodworker, stained glass window maker, carpenter and crafter extraordinaire. He dabbled in enamel, as well as other mediums. He spearheaded the construction of their cabin on property they bought out in Pennsylvania (his construction crew consisted of his wife and three pre-teen to teenage daughters). He built 3 (2? family? Chime in anytime) fiberglass canoes. And wooden oars. For a family trip down the Missouri river. You know, no big deal. Pack up the wife and kids, camping gear, 2 canoes that have never been in water before and head down the river. Fun!

I am lucky enough to have a stained glass window he made for me as well as a violin he made and wrote my name on the inside of it in ballpoint pen (alas,  both are in storage). He never was happy with the violin he made for me (he calls it old splotchy as the varnish is imperfect in his perfect eye - I don't see it). And one of the (in)famous canoes. That if you will remember, made it across the country (yet again!) on top of my mom's truck.

So today I am thinking about, and bragging about, my grandfather. He is a good one to have, and I love him very much.

He made soup for the Salvation Army often, and his soups rock to this day. Especially his Navy Bean one. And his Chili.
Our for a walk in '94. His 3 daughters and one of his granddaughters behind him (he has 5).
Ever the cute couple :)


Kerri said...

What a lovely ode, Caitlin! I hope he recovers quickly. Broken hips are scary.

I'd love to see pictures of the violin (I used to play) and stained glass (LOVE stained glass) one day!

Sending warm thoughts and good vibes to Grampa. <3

Jennifer Fais said...

Thank you so much for your heart-felt reflections on my Dad. I got to see him yesterday in the hospital and he was still really groggy from the surgery. But the nurses are happy with his progress so hope he'll be up and in rehab soon. I really needed to read your words when we got back last night, Caitlin. Thank you again. Love, Jennie

caitlinvb said...

I just wish there was something I can do, and the very best I can come up with is sending along various good vibes and calling grammy (I have talked to her, AND Heather, btw). Hang in there and let me know if I can do anything from here :(

Broken hips ARE scary, and my nana broke hers last fall, and now my grandfather.... I can't help but think they involve a design flaw...

Indiana said...

He's quite the guy.... He is someone we will always look back on with an inward or outward smile. I will always admire and respect him. Even when he's attempting escapes from the home he is in now..! once a ginger, always a ginger!