Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tales Of My Grandfather

My grandparents were always up with the sun, if not before.  The radio in the kitchen would erupt with the farm report, and that monotone voice would slowly permeate the entire house along with the smell of freshly percolating coffee.  My grandfather would dress in his coveralls and boots as soon as he had eaten his breakfast, and then he was off without a word.

Rain or shine, the farm came first; the animals fed, the cows milked, the grain harvested.  Grandpa would disappear into the machinery of the farm until lunch time, slipping into the house in his stockinged feet to eat lunch with his visiting progeny in silence.  If he was asked a question, the answer was usually muffled monosyllables, punctuated with grunts.  My grandfather usually was not coherent until after he had a nap in his favorite chair, his snores softly surrounding him.  This pattern, this first part of the day, was as consistent as the sunrise, as far as I knew, for the first twelve or thirteen years of my life.  Each summer my family would visit, and my grandfather's routine never changed, and neither did his silence.

And then one day, we arrived to find a porch swing.  It was unbelievable to me that such a frivolous item would appear; my grandparents were practical, farmer types.  Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I parked my behind on that swing as soon as I could.  A light breeze was blowing as I dangled my foot and pushed off, my book open and ready to read.  The sound of all my relatives talking was usually too much for my teenaged brain, so being alone was a rare treat.  Except on this day, my grandfather came out on the porch, a glass of water in his hand.  He didn't say anything, but I sat up and scooted over, so he could share the swing with me.  Grandpa sat down next to me, and we rocked together, the fireflies beginning to flash in the twilight.

I wasn't really sure what would happen.  I wasn't sure what to say, or if I was supposed to say anything.  My grandfather had been so taciturn my entire life that he'd taken on some sort of mythological status; many of the grandkids were outright terrified of him.  So I just sat there with my Grandpa.

Suddenly he began to talk.  He spoke about his childhood, how he and his brothers rode horses to school or pulled a cart.  He talked about driving a school bus.  He spoke about the farm, the animals, the fields that needed combining.  He talked about how he met my grandmother at a picnic for the local orphanage. He didn't really ask me any questions, and I kept my mouth quiet, encouraging him to continue with a nod here and there.  We sat there like that, my Grandpa and I, until the sky was full of stars. 

The next day my Grandpa was re-enveloped in his customary silence as he went about his day.  This time, however, I knew better than to think the wall of silence he had built around himself was permanent.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt:  Something your grandfather told you.


  1. Wow! Powerful! Your post is simply beautiful.

  2. You gave a very vivid picture in sharing this beautiful memory. I loved it!

  3. Now THIS is what I call a GIFT.
    Thank you for sharing.

  4. What a sweet story! I had a great aunt who used to tell me stories as I fell asleep about riding to school on a horse or in a buggy. And in the winter, in a sleigh. My kids will never hear stories like that.


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