My Pillar of Strength
Sitting there in that old rocking chair by the window, grandad was packing his pipe and looking out the window. That bright red tobacco pouch stood out against the gray work shirt and pants that he wore nearly every day. He was watching some deer grazing in the field across the road from the house. He lit his pipe and blew out a big cloud of smoke. Along with a hot cup of coffee he started to read the morning newspaper. Grandad was content to start each morning this way.
Disabled since his late forties because of a timbering accident, grandad walked slightly bent over from the shoulders. He could no longer work at a regular job but he was never one to just sit around and do nothing. There was a natural gas company that had a pumphouse just down the road. Grandad would go down to the pumphouse once a day to oil and grease the machinery that moved the gas through the pipelines. The natural gas company gave my granddad free gas to his home as payment for services. He grew horseradish which he would grind up and package to sell from a roadside stand. Grandad also had an antique bottle and jar business that he set up in the old barn that sat at the end of the driveway. And during the warm weather months he had a large vegetable garden and tulip bed that he worked. I always found it interesting that a man who always wore gray and lived in a gray shingled house loved working with the many colors of tulips he raised every spring.
My grandparents raised nine children; five boys and four girls. Their oldest boy was my father. I was the oldest grandchild and I loved my grandfather dearly. From my earliest memories to early adulthood, he was always there. He was not the type to say I love you or give hugs and kisses. His words were few but he had a way of making large problems small. The sky will be blue again he would always say. Grandad rarely got angry but if those piercing blue eyes were burning holes through your soul and that deep clear voice was starting to echo in your head, you knew you had crossed the line. Most of the time he had that smile and a wink of his eyes to reassure me. He liked to poke a little fun at you if you were getting too serious about things. He would catch you off guard and you would see his face light up with that big toothy grin. Grandad knew how to keep me grounded and showed me how to keep the hope alive.
It has been thirty-eight years since my grandad left this earth. I think of him often, sitting there in that rocking chair.
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