|My Great Grandfather George (almost cut off), My Grandpa, Willard, as a young man, his brother, Hick and my Great Grandmother Anna (she was a real feminist in her time). HAH That must be where I get it from!|
I've written several posts about my Grandma over the past year and I remembered that I had not written one post about my Grandpa. So, I decided to write a bit about him and his presence in my life. He was great at telling stories and sometimes I couldn't figure out as a child if he was "pulling my leg" or telling me the truth. He was such a cut-up and loved us all so much.
As a child, I followed him everywhere he went, chattering constantly. I remember him saying to me "Sissy can't you ever stop talking". I nearly drove him crazy with all that talking and all of those questions. He said that I made questions out of answers faster than he could answer them. I also remember when he and my Grandmother would have supper with us. He would eat his dinner and immediately get up from the table and walk outside. Never wanting to be left behind and always being his shadow, I would immediately get up and follow him. He would stroll around our yard and when I asked why he came out so quickly after eating he said it was to let his food settle. So, I would walk with him forever asking questions.
Because he was in charge of our family garden, he was out at our house nearly everyday in the summer months weeding and hoeing. Whenever he arrived all of us kids except for the baby at the time would run outside to greet him. Kids were just drawn to him because he was forever teasing and playing tricks on them. He had a nickname for each of us and believe me when I tell you that coming up with names for all nine of us had to be difficult but he did so after each child was born. Here is a list of a few of my siblings nicknames: Ike and Mike, Sissy (my nickname), and Julhoola. One of my brothers had two nick names, Daniel Boone in the winter and Apple Knocker in the summer, and then there was Skeezix (from the comic strip Gasoline Alley), and Weepy Pee Wee, just to name a few. HAH He predicted the sex of each of us, was never wrong and always said he could tell by looking into my moms eyes. He even knew my mom was having a baby before she told anyone!
He worked for the railroad all of his life as an Inspector and his job was to inspect any train accidents that occurred on the tracks. He loved his job and as he grew older I would see him walk across their small living room towards a window that over looked some train tracks that the trains still used and I would watch him look wistfully out at the train as it passed. I often wondered what he was thinking about at those times. He was a whiz at math and could add, subtract, multiply a long row of numbers in his head without writing it down and type 101 words a minute on an old time typewriter which wasn't an easy feat back then. He was an avid fisherman and knew where to go to catch the biggest fish and what kind of bait to use to catch them. He never told us what he used because he said it was his secret.
One of the funniest stories he told me was how when he was a young man, he went to work for an undertaker. His job was to go to the homes of people who had passed away and pick up the person who died and bring them back to the undertaker. He told me that he and another man went to such a place and had to climb a long flight of stairs to get to the door. After they put the person on the gurney they preceded to go down the stairway with my grandfather on the top of the stairs and the other man holding the gurney going down the stairs. The man going down the stairs lost control of the handles and the person on it went flying out the door onto to the street!! Can you imagine! My grandfather was laughing about this incident when he told me but at the time he said it wasn't funny at all. It was shortly after this incident that he left and found another job. HAH HAH
Most of all though I remember going to their house and knowing that during our visit we were going to get a Clark Bar (those candy bars and all that Kool-Aid with sugar must have been why I had so many cavities). HAH Oh how we looked forward to that! If we were playing in the basement one of us would be in charge of checking to see if he had gotten up to get us our candy bar. He was so very special to all of us! He was a very frugal man and sometimes you could say he was tight with his money. Both he and my Grandmother each had their own money and he didn't want her to know when he was giving us money so he would say to us "Don't tell your grandmother" and she would give us money and say "Don't tell your grandfather". HAH It was so funny! We never did tell the other about it.
I remember the last two weeks of his life when he had pneumonia and was hospitalized. He was 92 years old and my Grandmother was not able to care for him anymore so they decided to place him in a nursing home. Oh, how sad he was and when I would go to see him he would say to me "Sissy get me out of here"! I felt horrible because there wasn't anything I could do. I remember having to tell him I couldn't do anything about it. My last visit to him he seemed to be doing better and was sitting up in a chair when I arrived. I had brought him a Clark bar remembering all the candy bars he had given us. He didn't have his false teeth in so he sucked the chocolate off and enjoyed it so much. The last thing he said to me as I was leaving was "I always loved all of you kids". And indeed he did! He died three days later only having stayed in the nursing home one week. I think he planned it that way!
I continue to see him in my mind's eye and in those moments I still see him standing in front of the window in their small living room watching as the trains went by with that far away wistful look in his eyes and I still wonder what he was thinking all those years ago.
|My grandpa I believe in his late 60's, his oldest daughter and my grandmom|