Granddad and me (1974).
I’m six years old, sitting on my grandfather and playing with his heavy, warm pocket watch. He’s trying to take a nap, but the slow ticking of the watch only entertains me for a few minutes before I’m tickling his toes through the holes in the afghan my grandmother crocheted just for naps like this one. Looking back, I know I got away with a lot because I was the oldest grandchild – and the only girl.
I spent a lot of warm summer evenings sitting on a hill under the big maple tree, snapping green beans, watching lightning bugs, and chatting up my grandmother while his quiet presence circled the gardens, chewing on his pipe, taking stock. He grew gooseberries. He chewed Juicy Fruit and put the soggy gum into mole tracks to fend them off. He made wooden bowls and rolling pins. He spray-painted pine cones gold to entertain me. He always wore blue work shirts and jeans the color of his eyes, which mirrored the bright Indiana sky.
Today is Granddad’s 100th birthday. He married relatively late in life, traveling to Florida and West to find work during the Depression. Shortly after his death, I was going through some old photographs and came across a series with several stylish flapper girls in them. I’ve often begged his brother to tell me stories of Granddad's youth when he knew those women, before he was married to my grandmother, when he was engaged to someone else. All he tells me is that he was ‘a good Christian man’ and the conversation ends. There are still too many holes in the story to satisfy me and now it's too late. I'm on the couch, time ticks along in my hand, and stories remain untold.
Granddad and his brothers in the 1930s(?). There is nothing about this photo that I don’t love.
Granddad with my dad, probably taken by my grandmother (c. 1949).
Me, gardening in an attempt to slow down the pace of my own life, taken by SweetBasil in my urban garden (2004).