My Grandfather fascinates me.
I think that’s true for most Grandchildren, though. I know I’m not unique in that when my grandfather starts to tell a story about his life, I sit enraptured listening to it even if I’ve heard the story a dozen times. His stories aren’t about the War, or about being part of some great societal struggle (like the Civil Rights movement). There isn’t anything underhanded in his stories, or betrayals of trust. They fall more in line with Andy Griffith than with M.A.S.H.
I know unequivocally that when my grandfather passes away, I am going to cry. I’m going to miss his stories. I’m going to miss his crankiness when things break, and his advice when we sat in front of a fire at 4AM on a camping trip because he can’t stay asleep. Those I might miss most of all, because there’s something personal in a fireside conversation when the only sounds are the woods around you.
A fear plagues me. Not one born out of logic, however, as most of my fears are. This is born from something else, something that I can’t quite define. Perhaps it is just a part of the human condition that these sorts of fears exist. I don’t know. That’s a question for someone smarter than me. The fear goes something like this, though: My Grandfather is a farmer. I am not. So, because I did not, in any way, follow in his footsteps, he must be disappointed with me on some level, even if he didn’t show it. The flip side of this coin is that he might not care at all that I didn’t follow in his footsteps because I am not biologically related to him. I’m the child of the child of his wife – although they were never officially married.
James: You’re a good Grandpa.
Grandpa: I dunno. If I was any good, I’d have taught you how to make money.
As I was growing up, my mother and Grandfather were both semi-truck drivers. So they were gone a lot of the time trying to make a living. When he was home, he wanted to work on the farm, so we’d spend hours cutting wood, fixing fences, working cows, cutting thistles – you know, the stuff that is needed to keep a farm in working order. His work ethic, even today, astounds me. I don’t think he understands what retirement is, as he is constantly working around the farm, looking for new tractors to buy, and considering taking part time work driving a semi for a local company.
He doesn’t know how to not work unless he’s driving around the country looking at rocks in national parks.
We had a good conversation the last time I saw him, and I know that he cares for me. He invites me to stop in every time I’m in Missouri, (and I take him up on it for at least one night every time, so I can see how he’s doing and we can catch up.) My fear about him being disappointed because I’m not a farmer are laid aside, at least for a time, when I see him. He seems proud of the fact that I have my life together, and that I’m taking risks.
He called me the other day to ask me about snow fall. We got about 20 inches and he wanted to ask about it, and make sure I was doing alright. That was nice.