John the fatherMay 5, 2011
You were around Grandpa John enough to have felt his hugs that seemed to envelope your soul as well as your body. You heard his booming voice and were able to experience his generosity. His family was everything. He couldn’t abide a hungry child. He couldn’t stand for his family to be cold, or too hot.
One of my fondest memories of Grandpa John was a day when he and I were outside in below freezing weather and for some reason, I wasn’t wearing mittens. I was likely in too big of a hurry to follow him around and forgot to grab them. We were doing something out near the garage and I was helping him (I’m not certain he thought I was helping).
He looked at my red hands and chided me with, “Where are your mitts? Gimme those!”
He took my small hands into his large, rough ones and vigorously rubbed them to warm them. He was taking care of me the way he took care of his family; a lot of words were not necessary. He was looking at my hands as he warmed them. I was looking at him. I was always looking at him.
I told you about how he came out of the house hollering the many times he saw me taking apart my car in the driveway. It had to be fixed, I always told him as I replaced the master cylinder and wheel cylinders, the brake pads and whatever else my 1969 Plymouth Valiant, christened Betsy, needed. He would shake his head and grunt. It was after one of those sessions when I was cutting the battery cables with an enormous hedge shear (to replace terminal connections) because that was the only tool we had that would do the job, that he gave me a compliment that many may think is a little strange. He had difficulty understanding women and to him an overalls-clad, grease covered, hedge-shear-wielding 18-year-old girl whose car was always in pieces was a complete mystery.
From that viewpoint came his highest compliment when he ruffled my never longer than 3″ hair, patted my back and said, “You’re just like a son, ya know that?”