I never saw a purple cow,
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you this right now
I'd rather see than be one.
Growing up, Grandaddy loved to recite that poem to me. I'm not quite sure what the origin of it is--not the poem, but why Granddaddy liked to recite to us. I do remember he'd recite it a variety of ways--putting a different inflection here, a different candence there, sometimes delivering in an almost Shatner-like way. But after he was done, he'd always have a big smile.
In fact, he liked the poem so much that I found a transfer of a purple cow and stained a piece of wood and put it on there for him. He still had it hanging in his kitchen when we moved his stuff last weekend. There's also a charicature of Grandaddy out playing golf and a purple cow it out behind him as he tees off. That too was hanging up in his place when we packed things up last weekend and we've got it somewhere now in a box, sealed up and well protected.
Granddaddy loved to play golf. He still loves to snooze through it when it's on TV. He used to play five days a week. He'd walk all 18 holes a couple of times a week. I remember this because a while back, Grandmother had a heart attack, went to the hosptial and had to have a by-pass operation. After Grandmother got better, Granddaddy decided he should have his heart checked as well. So he went in for tests. The doctors wouldn't let him leave. He was scheduled for immediate triple by-pass surgery. The doctors told him and us that he had a strong heart from just walking those 18 holes of golf each day and that helped prevent his having a heart attack and assisted in his recovery. I often think about that on those days when I feel like not bothering with swimming or working out. People who know me and ask why I'm so addicted to my lap swimming have heard that story, probably more than once.
Granddaddy fought in World War II. He did see some action and he seldom talks about it. In the 8th grade, one of my classes had a project that required you to interview your grandparents. At the time, I was blessed to have all four of my grandparents around and I mailed off the interview sheets to each of them. I remember getting them back and reading them. The most eye-opening was Granddaddy's. He talked about things from the war he'd never spoken to us about before. He told us the story of being in combat and a buddy of his stepping on a land mine not more than five feet from him and being gone. The story was interesting as even Grandmother hadn't heard it. I've still got that report tucked away in a safe place...to have the memories of my grandparents in their own words and their own handwriting is priceless to me.
In that report, each of the grandparents was asked the question, "What are the good old days to you?"
Granddaddy's answer is one that has stuck with me. His answer was that the good old days are today. It's not some mythical time in the past, but it's about today--being with family and friends. And that he loved these good old days and was enjoying each one as much as he could. There are times when I see him now and I remember the man he was--smart, able-bodies and quick as a whip. And then I see him how he is now...a shadow of the man. And I hope and pray that he's having a good old day today...and then I wonder--am I? Am I trying to make today a good old day? I know I've blogged about this before--basically going Dead Poet's Society
and doing the Carpe Diem thing. But lately I do wonder if I'm doing it...or am I just existing and not really living.
Interestingly, as I blog these memories of my grandfather, it's Veteran's Day. I can't say I planned it this way, but I'm happy that it worked out this way. I think of the sacrfices he and his family made to serve our country and it makes me proud of him...and then proud of all those men and women who served and who continue to serve today. I am thankful he made it through alive and so I could know him.
I'm happy I've had the chance to get to know all my grandparents. Each has taught me something special and different. Each has shown me how loved I am in a variety of ways. I hear of people who grew up not knowing their grandparents and I realize how blessed I am. Granddaddy is the old grandparent I left who is still with us and he has good days and bad days. But I'm glad he's still here. Even if it's just for me to go over and nap through a Titan's game with....
posted by Michael Hickerson at 11/11/2005 02:38:00 PM