April 18, 2019
I was pitching a fit; it was my day to ride our pony and my visiting cousin was on him. Suddenly my Grandmother quietly said to me “Your Grandfather thinks so highly of you; how do you think this would make him feel?” I was stunned to silence. I hadn’t known that my Grandfather even knew I existed. He lived in a higher world than I, benignly remote; he was always in the background, quietly smoking his cigars. I don’t remember ever talking to him, but I recall him sitting in their Living room, with a spittoon and a totem of chewed gum next to him.
He sang for weddings and funerals in his beautiful tenor voice. My Aunt Darlene often accompanied him with her flawless soprano (as they did at my wedding). My aunts sang when they did dishes ranging, from alto to soprano. Aunt Angeline had her own radio show when I was growing up singing and playing the guitar, and probably accordion, but that’s another story.
Grandpa’s hands were legend they were so big. Forgetting his sports jacket in the car that drove off with a relative after my sister’s wedding, he borrowed my Father’s for pictures and had a hard time getting his hands through the sleeves.
I know most about Grandpa from stories told about him: his days running a lumber camp in Northern Wisconsin when my mother was young, being knocked out by his Percheron workhorse team as they ran on either side of a telephone pole with him between them. I also know him from images, some of which I took. My favorites are of him as a middle-aged man sitting listening to the radio, with my Grandmother when they were old, and as he met my nephew for the first time.