The gift of Grandfather

Some people are a part of your life forever.
Even if they are taken away far too soon.
Like my dad. Or brother.

But other people are still a part of who you are, every day, far across the miles.
Like my grandfather.
One of the few men in my life who has always been there.
Not that I can see him as often as I like, ’cause he lives on the other side of the country.
But those hard working hands, and his tender heart have helped mold my life into who I am today. 

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Some of those valuable lessons came through my mom.
The endless stories of her helping him move irrigation pipes,
learning that hard work is an essential ingredient to life, that God is most important.
Some of those molding moments came simply from the safety I always felt out at the farm.

ImageIt was a place where time stopped and the wind chime sang
and the cows bellowing echoed from across the creek bottom.
It was where the towering, creaking old red barn stood, with its loft full of mystery and dirt dauber nests.
Where toy plastic dishes never stayed clean, where the mesquite trees leaned, begging to be climbed.

ImageWhere playing dress up out of the deep musty smelling chest called endlessly, bumping down the worn stairway,
smelling bacon and tasting pulpy orange juice each morning were parts of life,
real and good.
Where the crossword puzzles were penned in neat capital letters,
and the crossword dictionary’s binding wouldn’t stay flat but fanned open into the position of constant use.

ImageIt was where I’d nestle deep into the coolness of the easy chair and watch “Anne of Green Gables” for the millionth time.
The football game played softly on the TV screen in the sunroom,
the imprint of an iron burned on the blue carpet from some long ago accident.
No, life wasn’t perfect out at the farm, but it was safe.

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It was where I built snowmen on the day we buried my dad.
It’s where I’d go, to close my eyes and take a deep breath during the long court case,
the stressful season we lived near there.
It was where I’d get a tight hug, and with my nose buried deep in his ironed shirt,
with suspenders strapped over, I smell love and security.

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That’s what he has been to me, this Grandfather of mine.
Where Dr. Pepper was always in the fridge in the garage, bubble gum in the pail in his closet,
and his eyes ever ready to dance and sparkle when he’d see me.

Image“Well hello, Sugar!” he’d say, and press a worn and priceless kiss onto my cheek.

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I’ve wished life could pause here, and this moment stay forever.
With his arms around me, his clean smell warding all danger away.
That my children could bump down those stairs a million times just like I did.
But time moves on, just like the brown water down in the creek.

ImageWe age, life goes on, and the farm must be sold.
We adjust to a new house, ever so much smaller than the farm,
but still filled with familiar furniture and smells, endless frames of smiling grand and great grand children.

ImageThe bacon fries here too, and the newspapers get perused and crossword puzzles worked over. 

But most of all, Grandfather,
and the gift of love and life that he has given me, lives on.
Here, in his presence, my husband tastes for the first time, what a real grandfather is.
I love it, watching my man gulp in the delight of the steady and true aura of Grandfather.

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And today it’s his 91st birthday. The man who has always been a haven for me.
Grady B Jolly,
who has no middle name but only the initial, has been a gift from God.
Grandfather, when I grow up, I wanna be like you.

‘Cause you have been a taste of heaven.

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7 thoughts on “The gift of Grandfather

  1. Sweet, Melissa! I feel connected to your grandfather because of all the good stories you’ve told us. Happy birthday to a wonderful family man.

  2. Thank you Melissa. Thank you for this. It reminded me of so many country songs (good ones that I love), so many hopes for my future. I’m so sorry you had to sell the farm.

  3. Awwww what a sweet post!! Feels so warm.. lovely writing. I can just feel the freshly laundered shirt and crossword puzzle – vibe. ^_^ Happy late birthday to him!

  4. Oh Melissa,
    You have the ability to make words your instruments to bring places and people to life. Your writing makes your world seem like a fairy tale. (Although I know it isn’t in reality)
    Thank you for sharing your talent,
    ~Yesenia, Bianca, and Imelda Unger~

  5. My grandfather, Calaway Lamar Jolly and yours, Grady B Jolly have the same great great grandfather, John Jolly. I found your beautiful post online today and wanted to say hello. My grandfather, Lamar passed away in 1992, but my memories of him are very similar to your descriptions of your grandfather. Please feel free to find me on Facebook or send an email. God Bless!

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