Friday, October 29, 2010


"My dad kept his Model-T's in the garage. I must have been two."

His first memory. "What color were they?"

"Black. All the Model-T's were black," he says. "They didn't make colors until the Model-A." I see his little boy hands stuffed in pockets, bare feet in the garage.

The depression. "Kids wore canvas shoes back then. Converse. The girls wore pink ones, the boys, black." We trundle up a back path, dog and kids in tow. Lulie thumps by, pink converse laced up to the ankle. I picture Grampa's ten-year-old hands lacing up black ones.

Back in the cabin we settle in. Wide arm-chairs, a cup of coffee, "I drove her to her appointments," he says. His mother. Breast cancer.

"So it was pretty big when it came back?" Grampa was 21. I see his hands there on the steering wheel taking Momma to the city.

"It's not the size," he says.

"Just how far along it was?"

He strokes Paddy-dog. "The stage." Paddy closes her eyes. Afternoon sun warms her black coat and Grampa's hands. Doctor hands. "When I was practicing," he says, "sometimes we'd see something called a spontaneous remission. Never could explain it." Paddy nuzzles his hand, "Unless someone upstairs, was lookin' out for ya."

Upstairs. It hangs in the air. Someone upstairs. "Yup." Wish I could have met his mother.

Later he says Great-Uncle Alan went to the war, took a bullet at the Battle of the Bulge -- shattered his arm, wrist to elbow. A year later, he left the hospital, one arm forever shorter. He never played the clarinet or the piano again.

Grampa picks up rocks for the kids to try and skip. He rubs the dirt off, holds Paddy's leash, leans into the pistol holster across his shoulder. "Here you go, Jack." Little boy kerplunks it in the deep water.

Paddy-dog pulls us home, to the mountain cabin.

The days leaf by. A month away now, I miss Grampa. Wish we could sprawl the table with three games of solitaire and see who wins more. I'm hungry for more stories.

A good man is hard to find.


L-Dash said...

My great uncle was in the Battle of the Bulge, too. He became a POW for a LONG time. My grandma was devastated. She kept sending letters off, without knowing if he would ever see them. He did come home. Much much thinner. We need to pass on these stories as our generation has never known such a life. Thanks for sharing. I love grandpas!

Craig and Bethany said...

Amazing. What a heritage. Thanks for sharing to you too. A generation of heroes.

Goat said...

You have a way with him that I don't have. Granddaughter communication rather than daughter communication.

The richness of generations. Our society put that low on the priority list. So glad that you don't.

Audra said...

What a treasure of a post! My grandpa turned 80 just a couple days ago. What a blessing to have such ruch history in our lives!

Amy in Peru said...

I LOVE this post. Such sweet intimacy... I love how you love him. :) Makes me mourn the loss of being there the last years with my grandpa who is now in heaven. Being far away has its serious drawbacks...

your blog is beautiful!

amy in peru

Melissa Campbell said...

Your post was bitter-sweet, brought me to tears. I love how you honored this good man. Treasure him now so you can remember later. Blessings here. :)

keLi said...

Oh, Bethany. Your posts are like the verboten Halloween candy ... having been away, I gulp them all down in one sitting.

But this one -- oh, friend. I lost my Paw Paw just three years ago, and his birthday is this month, and this post ... hard to find, indeed. Thank you for this.