I spend a lot of time on WordPress Reader perusing other blogs, looking for a sense of commonality with strangers, I suppose. It’s amazing what we all have in common if we let our guard down.
Today, I was inspired by Elizabeth Slaughter’s Blog: Saved By Words. Her entry today Jumping for Joy took me back to my childhood and the simple gifts my grandfathers gave me.
My Paternal Grandfather
I have written about Grandpa before in several blogs, but most recently I referred to him as my Gentle Giant. He was a very tall slender man, who had neatly combed white hair and a raucous laugh. With me and my siblings, he was always such a gentle man. There was no hint of the rough and tough scoundrel that worked for the railroad when he and my grandmother were first married.
I am not sure they were poor, but they definitely lived off of the land and managed by wit and determination. I remember my grandfather making me a TV set out of a huge cardboard box. (At least it seemed huge to my six-year-old little body.) He cut an opening and somehow attached knobs for ‘tuning’ the channels and for adjusting the volume. I, of course, was the star of whatever show happened to be playing in my head. Such a creative toy for a creative child.
We lived with my grandparents for a while and I remember quite well my grandfather crafting a pair of stilts for me out of rough-hewn 1×2’s. I weighed very little and was not very tall at the time, but man, oh, man, I felt huge up on those stilts. There was never a moment that I was afraid. Even with splinters piercing my skin, I was on top of the world.
My Maternal Grandfather
Granddaddy worked in the Philippine Islands before and after he and my grandmother married. When I was born, they lived on their farm in Virginia.
Running the farm was hard work. There was always gardening to do, cows to milk and land to maintain. I loved him very much, but don’t remember him interacting on a little kid level much.
Later in life, however, when my daughter was born, he had time. I will never forget the time I brought her to see them. My Uncle bought her a walker, but she was such a little thing her feet would not touch the floor.
Following his stroke, Granddaddy used a walker to get around. I still have a vivid picture of him walking down to his shop (he was a great carpenter) with my daughter’s walker clasped between his hand and his walker. An hour or so passed and he came back up to the house from his shop and tossed my daughter’s new walker on the living room floor. “Try it now”, he said.
I put her in it, her feet touched the ground and off she went! She hasn’t stopped since. Baby walkers at the time had an X-shaped frame with springs at the junctions and wheels to allow children of different sizes to use them. He had taken the walker to his shop and hammered shims between the springs to loosen them. He was a man of few words but great love.
I was a fortunate little girl to have these two men for my grandfathers. They were such a big part of my life and the memories are so vivid as if it all happened yesterday.
Thank you, for the inspiration Elizabeth.