Wednesday, January 26, 2005


The one grandfather that I truly remember the most was not a blood relative. He was my mother’s stepfather. Everyone loved him; my mother, her siblings, the spouses, and all of the grandchildren.

This wonderful man was the perfect grandfather. He spent countless hours with all of us, and I will never forget the things we did. On the farm he and my grandmother owned, we went berry picking, picked various fruits in the orchard in front of the house, and tended chickens. There was one sad time. Grandpa had to put a litter of beautiful puppies to sleep because they had distemper. I had already decided that I loved a golden one the best, and watched as he put them one by one, along with chloroform, into a large metal lidded pail. Obviously, I have never forgotten that time, and have recalled it when I have had to make that final visit to a vet with a beloved cat.

Grandpa took us kids to movies, and on trips to see other relatives a few hours away. We went with him and Grandma to cemeteries on Memorial Day, in another part of the state, with a trunk load of flowers from Grandma’s garden to put on relatives’ graves.

Back in those days, we did not spend a lot of time in front of the TV; we spent it hanging out with Grandpa. Summers were especially wonderful, because a lot of the time was spent outside. We loved it when Grandpa came to our home to help our father build an addition on the house. He was a carpenter by trade, and when he spent time at the house, it meant that we got to see him even more often.

A lot of the time, on Saturday nights, he and Grandma came to our house to play pinochle with our parents. They always enjoyed this treat, and at times were joined by an aunt and uncle. We were all very close, and spent much time together. Grandpa and Grandma lived only three miles away.

At one point, Grandpa worked at the Navy Base, when they were rebuilding and making it an Air Force Base. He was a carpenter there. He brought us scary comic books that had been discarded. He received a head injury while working on the base, causing permanent blindness in one eye. After his accident, I was always nervous about riding in the car when he was driving. If I remember right, it was a long time before he received disability.

When I was in eighth grade, Grandpa lay dying with lung cancer. In the innocence of youth, I thought he would recover, although I had not been informed of the nature of his illness. In years past, he had always coughed, and had even spent time in the nearby TB sanitorium. He coughed all night for years, it seemed. He was at home during his illness, and eventually the kids were not allowed to see him. We could not go in the bedroom. He had male nurses, my grandmother, and other adult members of the family, to tend to his needs.

My grief was very great when he finally died, and I still think of him. His brother and sister came for the funeral, and we had not seen them before that. They were from northern New York State, and spoke French, basically. We did not know that Grandpa was French Canadian and probably spoke French fluently. That is a rather interesting note, as my grandmother’s first husband, the father of her children, was from France.

Grandpa never had any children of his own, but he could not have been a better grandfather.


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