One of my grandfather’s birthdays is today. He is long passed on, born on July 2, 1900. I connect him sometimes to my grandson, who was born in 2001, 101 years later. Someday he too might have someone writing about him as a grandpa born at the beginning of a century!
My grandfather was not particularly bent to a warm relationship, I would say. I saw him most of the time in the summers, because he and my grandmother didn’t live close to my home, and these were the parents of my father who was killed in World War Two. I was lucky enough to know these grandparents every summer for a couple of weeks. They ran a full working farm, with a huge garden, fields of corn and other crops, places where blackberries grew, a creek for wading, chickens, horses, a few milk cows, sheep and mules. My grandfather’s outside work was that he was a mule trader, and when I visited, I got to meet a lot of men who dropped by to trade or buy or sell mules. I was not afraid of these creatures, and Grandfather didn’t ride them, only bought or sold for others to use, mostly to pull wagons. I also had the privilege of owning my own pony at this farm; a pinto named Silver, and I rode every day with my grandfather on his horse, Lady, down through the pasture to bring the cows home. He helped me learn to ride in his quiet way, and our relationship was built on need. He showed me how to catch, bridle and ride the pony, with gentle hands and gentle words; and how to shell corn for the chickens, because that helped with my grandmother’s chores. He showed me how to start the windmill pumping so we could fill the water tank for the cattle, and how to toss hay for the horses' feed.
In the evenings, we three would sit and read, and sometimes listen to a big, brown, beautifully polished radio (I don’t remember what kind). We might listen to music or a boxing match or a comedy show for just a little while. Then I remember my grandfather saying, “that’s enough now, got to get back to the reading.” Isn’t it interesting that however much they must have loved connecting up with others over the radio, they knew that reading was important to keep up with also? I have so many memories of this time on that farm, but today, it’s time to remember a birthday.