Selasa, 07 Oktober 2008

In Memory, In Love

Photo by Doug Vasey

May 6, 1905 - September 26, 2008

My grandpa was not a man of great commotion. He was not hurried or dramatic. He was wise and capable, he loved reading about history and engineering, and he had an extraordinary mind. You sensed, when you were in his presence, that you were with someone rare and exceptional. I think all sorts of people could comprehend this. His grandchildren certainly did. He gave us an orchard to play in, a pasture to roam, work to do that made us feel trusted and important, and patience -- endless patience, along with an early introduction to diplomacy. When I served him soapy bathwater in a Dixie cup and called it lemonade, he couldn’t keep his lips from puckering, but he managed to nod his head and say, “well, say, that’s interesting. Thank you. Thank you very much.” One day I picked wild grapes in the orchard. They were small and tart and nearly juiceless. I spent a good portion of the afternoon crushing them on the picnic table where we spread birdseed, filling considerably less than a Dixie cup with sour juice mixed with a few seeds the squirrels didn’t want. I didn’t think about adding sugar or water. I rushed out to the orchard, following the chug of the tractor so I could flag down my grandpa and present my gift. He stopped -- interruptions were just something else to take in stride -- and accepted my cup with characteristic appreciation, “well say, that’s awfully nice of you.” This show of trust came just a year or so after the bathwater trick, and still he was willing to give me another chance. Again his lips puckered, and again he shared thanks and managed some comment about the color of the juice, the amount of work it must have taken. Not only was he diplomatic, he was unflappable. I remember summer afternoons, days I spent playing Flinch with my grandma and climbing trees. Grandpa spent a lot of those days trying to fix equipment – the sprayer, the tractor…something he was depending on for that day’s work that broke down just when he was counting on it to get a job done. He’d spend a whole morning tinkering with it, and he’d come in for lunch and sit down and still he wouldn’t complain. He’d thank my grandma for the cinnamon apples or the fried apples or the baked apples, and he’d watch her hustle around the kitchen, and I’d watch him watching her, and that was an early introduction to what love looked like in someone’s eyes. We all learned a lot about love from him, and from them, and from the place they shared with us.

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