Today my grandpa passed away. He was 86. It was unexpected, and I miss him. I wish I could have made it back to Indiana to have seen him one more time.
As with anyone his age, your body starts to rebel against you, and that’s what caught up with him today.
He came from very humble beginnings in southern Kentucky, but moved to Central Indiana as a young man and took work where he could. My grandma later moved up to Anderson from Kentucky as well and they eventually married. That’s been over 60 years ago. He ultimately retired from GM some number of years ago. They lived frugally and worked hard, lived in a modest house just outside of a small town south of Anderson. But its seems like they always had enough, I don’t ever recall hearing otherwise from my mom. He worked hard to provide for his family, and loved us all. Even if he didn’t say it, you knew…..
This is one of my favorite photos of him taken in 1948 in Tempe Arizona on a trip he and my grandma took. Notice the gun stuffed in the belt.
I have many fond memories of him… fishing in his pond, breaking green beans or shucking corn from his garden. We always had a good garden, but there was nothing better than a pan of butter beans from grandpa’s. I remember he and I cutting thistles out of his bean field behind the house. Not exactly a fun job, but I didn’t seem to mind it that day. I also remember helping him corral ponies that had gotten out of his fenced in pasture. I’m really surprised he didn’t shoot each and every one of them that day as they ran back and forth across the neighbors yard. I suspect that if they had been his and not boarded, he would have! He always had time for his grandkids, I wish I had made more time for him.
Another fun memory I have was he and I went for a walk around the lake at Shadyside Park. We started off at a normal pace, but by the end of the walk we were darn near power walking. At the time neither one of us was going to ask the other one to slow down….he wasn’t going to be beaten by a teenager, and I wasn’t going to be beaten by an old man! We had a good laugh about it later. He was a stubborn old man, and I consider that to be one of the finer qualities that I inherited from him. My mom recounted a story where they had taken his ladders away to keep himself out of trouble. My grandpa was later found fixing a gutter on his shed by standing on the seat of his tractor. Some number of months later, he had been talking about cutting tree down in his yard. I can hear my grandma now, “Now Mel Alfred, you have no business with a chainsaw!” Well, she and my mom left to run some errands and when they came back, the tree was down. My wife better watch out…I have a quarter of that blood in me.
I’m thankful that we made it back to Indiana this past Christmas and share that with him, as well as having my son’s birthday party at my grandparent’s house. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
I know we shouldn’t idolize people, but I’m sure the good Lord will excuse a grandson idolizing his grandpa. He’s one of the few people in this world who could do no wrong in my eyes. I’ll sure miss him.
Rest well grandpa.