I was fortunate to have my paternal grandfather in my life until I was in my early 30’s. When I was a teen and my great grandmother was in a geriatric ward for a couple of years, he would tell me tales of his young life. He grew up in a railroad family and was known to “ride the rails.” As a young man, he injured and lost one of his eyes with a pocket knife accident and had a glass eye. Though he had an interesting young life and was probably a bit of a bad boy, he was a gentle, hardworking man that owned his own business and raised two sons that both far exceeded his 8th grade education, both getting University degrees in engineering. As an older man, he was a bit of a curmudgeon.
I was the first grandchild and always felt a special bond with him. As a young adult, I would go to the farmers’ market then take baskets of peas or butter beans to my grandparents home and my grandmom and I would shell them for dinner and for the freezer. More than once, Pop as all of us grandkids called him would sit on the porch with us and would pick up a handful of beans and start shelling. My grandmom would comment that she had never seen him do that before.
I had a young kitten and once asked them if they would keep it for a week while I flew to Hawaii to met my husband on R & R. They had no pets as Pop wasn’t fond of them, but indeed they did keep my kitten. One of the things he disliked was having the cat rub around his legs as cats are prone to do. It is strange that as I am aging, I don’t like a cat to rub on me and though we have two outdoor cats and two dogs, I don’t like them to lick me.
Once I asked him if he had seen a comic in the paper and though he was reading the paper, he told me he didn’t read the comics. I couldn’t believe that anyone didn’t read them, but other than the occasional one that my husband points out to me, I no longer read them, none of the good ones are in print anymore.
When my first husband and I started having marital problems, it was obviously distressing to him. After I divorced and met my current husband, the love of my life, my grandfather took him aside and informed Jim that if he ever hurt me, that he would have to answer to him. As it turned out, when Pop had a heart attack at home and my grandmother called me to come to her, I was a city away at work. Jim was close by and he hurried to their home to help my grandmom while the medics were there and until I could get there.
Recently, I have thought of him many times, when an impatient driver behind us honked his horn at Jim, I was reminded of how Pop would continue to sit, roll down his window and point over the top of his car; as I fuss at the cat for rubbing against my legs on the porch or as one of the dogs tries to “kiss” me; when Jim points out a comic in the paper that he thought I would appreciate. Perhaps, I too am becoming a curmudgeon.