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"I don't like children," Grandpa said without hesitation. "I never liked children even when I was a child"  How could this be, I thought to myself.  What on earth is he trying to say to me now?  

This was the typical way my dialogues with Grandpa would be.  I was always learning something new about him and at the same time just plain learning about the life of a man that spanned 96 years.

It was a time in my life that if anyone needed a Grandpa it was me.  It was a time of transition for me in that I was completely out of my element.  I was the city mouse who without warning turned into the country mouse.  This is where my spirit of adventure had placed me.  This is where my stand by the side of a friend had left me.  This is where another beginning was taking place and my angel was Grandpa.

"Nope," he said as a matter of sheer fact.  He went on to explain that when he was a young boy all he wanted to do was work.  He wanted to contribute towards the family.  He had no time for childish things and wanted to be a man.  He wanted to be able to earn his keep to the world and those he cared mostly about.  Another fact, Grandpa had raised 26 children in his lifetime.  Hard to even comprehend, yet it is true.  Some children were his and the rest came with the women in his life.  It was at that time I realized why he felt the way he did.  He called his youngest group of grandchildren, "heathens".  I still have to laugh about it to this day.  That man never lied!

Grandpa was a logger by trade.  He also was a champion boxer and would work all types of different jobs to feed his family.  He had lived almost everywhere in the state of New Hampshire at one point or another.  He could tell you addresses as well as what the people were like.  Countless hours had been spent listening to him tell me how Manchester use to look and Concord.  He would tell me about New Englanders. He would talk about their manners and their politics and he spared no mercy on those topics.  He would answer questions as basic as one can get.  When I asked him what the people in Maine were like, he would say, "people in Maine are a different kind of people."  That was it!
I would grin and smile laughingly back at him and insist he tell me what he meant.  He would only add, "people in Maine are people in Maine."  Of course he did have more to say with regard to other New England states.  Some remarks were outrageous and ones that prevent me from repeating however I have made note of them in my mind.

Grandpa had great insight to his famiy and to why he chose Deerfield, New Hampshire to be his home.  One by one he went through his children.  There was no difference to him as to whose children they were.  Some were white, some were black and some were mixed racially.  Some were his and others were not biologically his.  It didn't matter to him.  He would just tell me about them based on their character.  He would share what he saw as their strengths as well as their weaknesses.  He would compare things to what his father would see.  He knew what part of him was his father and what part of him was his mother.  He was happy with some and disappointed in others.  The biggest thing however is that he raised them!  He worked and worked and had no difficulty with discipline or the use of a shotgun to make teenage boys get the message.  

Grandpa paid bail for some and helped other ones get another start.  With hearing starting to fail, with tears in his eyes from too much reading, with fingers that couldn't open things as good and arthritis in his legs, he still wanted to help the kids.  He still wanted to make sure they were OK.  He still would give these now grown children hell if they deserved it and would make suggestions to them at the same time.  Then, there was Deerfield.

Grandpa loved Deerfield with every fiber of his being.  He shared his story of when he came there and how no other place could capture him the most like Deerfield could.  He was proud of his home.  Why or how someone could say that with such passion was incredible.  After all, the house that originally sat on the property had been destroyed by a fire.  Then all the animals on his farm left one by one for one reason or another.  Later he sold some of his land to pay the medical bills for his wife who had cancer.  Topping it all off with living through some horrible winters and Nor Easters and so on and so on.  Grandpa was proud to say he was from Deerfield, New Hampshire and proud to call himself a Democrat.  

Grandpa could still see the beauty of the trees and leaves on a crisp fall day.  Driving down his road as the sun begins to set is like a painting that you knew some artist already captured.  Grandpa could still smell the fresh air and the moist earth.  Grandpa would gather every bit of strength he had to stand up with two canes to walk out of his home on the landing saying, "be sure to come back", as I opened my car door.  As long as I made a promise back to him that I would come back he became more and more accepting that I moved away.

Visits were frequent as long as the weather would hold out.  I would let Grandpa know that once winter set in I would be staying close to home.  He understood.  I had the hardest of times leaving Deerfield when I did.  He was open and receptive to my change and he never said anything negative about it.  He just happened to believe that Deerfield was the best.  

Once I began working shortly after landing in this abyss Grandpa was then always asking me how I was doing.  He wanted to know if I was being treated right.  He wanted to know if "those folks" were paying me good.  He wanted to know if I was happy.  He questioned me about where I lived and if I liked it there.  He wanted to know if I thought things suited me.  Other than these questions Grandpa would comment on my religious/cultural background as well as my political point of view and he did it at will.  If something would come to his mind about an experience he had, then it was sure to follow he would refer to me.  

Being with him was never about me telling him all my problems.  I never had to speak of them.  He read my soul from the start with just a glance.  Being with him was pure respect before I uttered one word or opinion or even laughter.  Being with him showed me what perseverance really is and what it takes to remain honorable in a troubled world.

The life of a man who said, "I don't like children," saved me from second guessing my decisions and choices in life.  We all have crossroads in our lives.  Hopefully we are astute enough to realize that is what they are.  At these junctures it is hard to sometimes feel if what decisions we did make were indeed the right ones.  Grandpa told me once that the only good thing he thought one of his grandsons did was to bring me to New England.  That was six years ago.  That statement made me feel as if  I belonged.  That statement gave me the courage to stick it out and learn to adapt to the new country mouse enviroment from the city mouse comfort zone.

Now it is two years after Grandpa has since passed away.  I still see his big smile and his eyes in my mind and heart.  It reminded me of when I packed up my memories of New Hampshire, the farm and the Deerfield fair.

The days that come sometimes when I begin to have self doubt I hear the spirit of a man called Grandpa.  Grandpa believed in me when I could not believe in myself.  Grandpa respected my upbringing as a Jewish woman when I had a hard time respecting it  myself.  Grandpa appreciated everything I did and would go out of his way to say it over and over. Grandpa's words that he was glad I was in New England  come flooding into my soul.  

Grandpa knew.  He knew about life and about death.  He knew about happy and sad.  He knew about strength and about weakness.  Grandpa knew about loss and about winning.  Grandpa knew about good and he knew about bad.  Grandpa knew that I needed an angel.  He was my earth angel back then and is my spirit angel now.  Grandpa knew I needed a push in the right direction.  Grandpa believed I would stay strong and honest and true to myself.  In fact, he was probably counting on it!

Rib it- I rest my head on the New England lily pad of my life!

Originally posted to toad718 on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community, Personal Storytellers, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Such a wonderful description of him (9+ / 0-)

    So many parts of your story reminded me of my own grandfather. He's been gone 10 years now. I miss him so much. I know you feel the same.

    Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew. ~John Greenleaf Whittier

    by VexingEyes on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 05:23:03 PM PDT

    •  I certainly do feel that way (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kestrel9000, VexingEyes

      Grandpa was one of the most fascinating people I have ever had the pleasure to know and love.

      I feel good inside knowing that my story brought memories back to you. That makes the difference.

      •  We were both blessed. (0+ / 0-)

        Thank you for sharing your story. It's so easy to get caught up in the latest headline about Romney or Ried. Papaw could always see what was most important and you sharing the memory of your grandpa brought that back.

        "These people aren't just on the other side of this debate. They're on the other side of reality." ~ Harry Reid

        by VexingEyes on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 06:35:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I envy you. (11+ / 0-)

    I did not have any real relationship with any of my grandparents, or other "elders" who took their place. My son, the youngest of 21 grandchildren on one side and youngest of 8 on the other, only had 2 active grandparents, and really only until he was 12. I miss that for him, too.

    You had a great blessing in your Grandpa, Grandpa who didn't like children. Thanks for sharing him.

    •  It was my pleasure to share (3+ / 0-)

      Grandpa was a man I met when I first came to New Hampshire.  I lived on his land on a farm.  We became very close and I feel blessed.

      I do want you to know that my grandparents were already deceased by the time I came into this world.  I can relate to how you feel with regard to yourself and your children.  In saying that please know that a Grandpa can come into your life when you least expect it and when you need him the most.  Hold on to this thought.  

      Personally I never thought that something like this could have happened to me.  He was Grandpa to me and I called him that.  It turned out in my heart that he became my Grandpa.  He will always remain that.

      •  I did understand he wasn't your (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

        biological grandpa, but it did not matter. And yes, having extra people to love us, that can happen quite unexpectedly. I am blessed to have a lot of women who have come into my life over the last few years, and they play a variety of roles for me, including, at least momentarily, mom. It's good to have extra moms, and more and moreso as I get older and seemingly would need that less.

        Thanks again. I'll look forward to more writing by you.

        •  I was not sure if you realized (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VexingEyes

          that he was a Grandpa however not biological.  I did not want to mislead anyone so I am glad you did understand.

          It is true about moms and having many of them.  As time passed I also began to pick up some real savoy Aunts along the way.

          I enjoyed your return comment and I will continue to write as the inspiration takes hold.

  •  What a blessing for you and for us to read. (10+ / 0-)

    I am sending the diary on to a friend who is a mult-generation new Englander.
    I am just a transplanted New Yorker, and even though I do not have a New York accent (as I spent long times abroad), Bostonians know that I am not from around here.

    "Are you bluish? You don't look bluish," attributed to poet Roger Joseph McGough, for the Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968).

    by BlueStateRedhead on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 07:55:00 PM PDT

    •  Wow (3+ / 0-)

      I am excited that by reading my diary you were inspired to forward same.  Thank you very much.  I couldn't have wanted a better compliment.

      I am also happy that you enjoyed reading about Grandpa.

      Transplanted New Yorker is cool.  Of course the New Englanders, and especially Bostonians always spot the one who doesn't talk like they do or use some of the slang such as 'wicked'.  That one took me by surprise!

  •  Well done. From the heart, to say the least. (6+ / 0-)

    It's not a minor point,
    not a joke,
    the thing about children.

    I've never raised any children,
    aside from helping with a few
    nieces and nephews,
    for a few years,
    but I feel that children should be raised
    with a delicate balance between
    not too harsh,
    but not encouraging endless silliness,
    with no regard for the family,
    with no regard for society at large.

    Seems that a certain amount of silliness
    is therapeutic,
    while endless,
    all day silliness
    fails to show the child the big picture.

    I don't know
    how soon,
    at what age,
    a person should
    steer the child to see,
    and act upon,
    the larger responsibility
    we all must share,
    our duty to each other,
    but such teaching
    needs to be done,
    firmly and certainly.

    That's what I gather your Grandfather
    was saying
    about children.

    Thanks again for the diary.

    •  I never would have put it in such words (3+ / 0-)

      It is so true what you wrote and it is very very much like Grandpa was.  This man had a very stern way about him.  Some people in the town were actually afraid of him.  

      I can understand that yet at the same time I saw a man who cared and loved so deeply that there was no other way for him to be.

      I am glad you enjoyed my diary.  That is nice to know that others felt him as a result of my writing.

  •  What a wonderful tribute! (5+ / 0-)

    You were fortunate to have such a grandfather in your life!

    Did you ever read the book Heidi?  See the movie (any version)?  Heidi's grandfather was a gruff old man to cover a heart that had been broken by life and loss (including Heidi's mother, his daughter), and she brought love back into his life.  He wasn't the least bit gruff with Heidi's friend, Clara, who used a wheelchair.  Heidi's grandfather had more compassion in his little finger than most people do over a lifetime.

    I see the children who found their way to the life of your grandfather as bringing him love.  He treated you as a grown-up, as an individual.  That means he respected you as a unique person before anyone else ever did.

    Thank you for sharing your grandfather with us!  You brought tears of happiness and memories....

    I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

    by NonnyO on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 03:55:12 AM PDT

    •  How wonderful to think you would compare (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VexingEyes

      These stories I am familiar with and it never occurred to me that Grandpa was just exactly like Heidi's grandfather was.

      I feel so elated I am myself almost speechless that you found a piece of you in the diary, especially the happiness part of you and the bittersweet tears.

      Thank you for reading it!

  •  Wonderful.... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    Thank you....
    How incredibly fortunate that you had, and realized you had, 'a New England lily pad of your life'.
    Just thinking how comforting it would be if we all had, or realized, amid the fray of life, that we do have, our own lily pads of life.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 05:22:37 AM PDT

    •  I certainly do feel like a lemon of a choice (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VexingEyes

      I was only coming to New England to help someone else.  I never dreamed that I would ever stay here however that is exactly what happened to me.  My experience reminded me of a poster quote about making lemonade out of lemons.  

      My personal circumstances when I first arrived in New Hampshire were far from pretty.  Yet, this New England lily pad turned into a whole new life.  

      I can only extend my thanks for reading this and for the very true comment about how each of us have our own lily pads of life.

  •  Beautiful story & writing style. Very (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    heart warming.

    Thank you for sharing!  Peace & much love to you and yours!

    I voted for Change. Not Three Chiefs of Staff from Wall Street Banks. Not Bernanke, Summers, Geithner, Holder, Simpson, or a Monsanto Lobbyist. Not more Free Trade. Not more Patriot Act. Not defending Wall Street's Savvy Businessmen.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 06:38:00 AM PDT

  •  "remain honorable in a troubled world" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    Right On!

    and - Thanks!

    For making me thing of my grandpa today.

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

    by No one gets out alive on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 06:57:28 AM PDT

  •  What a rich tribute to a special human being. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    Thanks for sharing.

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 07:42:35 AM PDT

  •  He sounds like a great man (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    I would be proud to know him!

    Ceterum autem censeo, DOMA delendam est.

    by mkfarkus on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 08:17:46 AM PDT

  •  I was blessed with a terrific grandfather as well (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, toad718, VexingEyes

    My dad's father was the "Opa" in my life. I only met my mother's father once, and what I remember most about him is that he complained a lot about the noise we made and the crumbs we dropped on the floor while eating lunch. He and my mother were estranged, and she brought us to see him out of a sense of duty. We never went back.

    But "Opa" never complained. He rarely said a word, actually. He left the talking to "Oma" who was very good at it.

    As a child, I loved being with him. Somehow, his silence opened a space for me that was full of magic and meaning. He taught me more not saying a single word than any lecture by the other adults in my life. He was a farmer and worked as a forester in the off-seasons to bring in extra money. Because of that he was close to nature and understood her language in a way that nobody else I knew did. He could predict the weather without fail and knew when the season was right for any activity on the farm.

    He also never demanded or judged, unlike most of the other adults. With him it was all about experiencing life directly, just as she is. He was great with animals, wild and domestic, because he treated all life with respect and non-intrusive appreciation. His deep but somewhat detached affection for me gave me a sense of belonging and freedom all at the same time.

    As he went about his work, I would tag along. He had a stiff knee and walked with a cane. Ever so often he would point the cane at something and move his head to the side that indicated that there was something for me to learn. Then, without saying anything, he would move on. It was up to me to figure out what he wanted me to see and draw my own conclusions about it.

    If I was on the right track, he would raise his eyebrows and nod his encouragement for me to look closer and take the risk of probing deeper for an answer. When I "got" it, he would give me a short nod and little smile. I lived for those smiles! They were a greater reward than any ribbons or trophies.

    Because of his teaching style, I became very observant of my surroundings, paying close attention to minute details, connecting events, and interpreting the messages the natural world was sharing with us constantly. I also learned to be still and listen -- not easy disciplines for any child. My mother who viewed me as a "difficult" child (I was born questioning authority) was amazed how "good" I was with Opa. She never understood that the bond we shared had nothing to do with being good or bad.

    Opa taught me that all I needed to know and all I needed to be was found within my own self, just waiting to be discovered. All he did was point to it, let me do my own learning, and then acknowledge the value of my work.

    The verb "educate" has its roots in the Latin verb "deducere" which means "to pull;" the prefix "e" means "out." Opa probably never made it past the 8th grade, but he knew the secret of being a great teacher: to educate means to pull out, not to put in. He died almost 40 years ago, but I will always be grateful to him for those early formative lessons.  

     

    If money is speech, then speech is money and I should be able to pay my bills with witty social commentary, astute political analysis or good old blarney

    by heiderose1 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 12:16:06 PM PDT

    •  How great this comment is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VexingEyes, heiderose1

      and how nice of you to share this.  I can understand how you felt and I know that a nod, a smile, an old man holding himself up with two canes on the landing of his home showed me how much I was loved. That picture in my mind keeps me believing in life.

      Grandpa quit school so he could work of course.  Your definition of educate and your story of your Opa makes me feel that we truly were the lucky ones and the educated ones.

      •  I thank you for your diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        toad718

        because it brought back so many good memories. My mother was a very controlling, angry and hypercritical woman.  Being with Opa gave me the freedom and personal space I craved as well as the approval and unconditional love I needed to develop my own identity and explore all the possibilities open to me.  

        Opa, like your Grandpa,  possessed that wisdom that comes directly from the heart and cannot be taught but has to be lived. We both were lucky indeed.

         

        If money is speech, then speech is money and I should be able to pay my bills with witty social commentary, astute political analysis or good old blarney

        by heiderose1 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 09:54:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Grandpa`s know best, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    toad718

    thanks for this tribute to grandfathers. I know exactly how
    you must feel.

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 02:44:28 PM PDT

    •  Your knowing how I feel makes me glad (0+ / 0-)

      I never thought I would ever hear so many nice things.  It is even better when I receive a response that lets me know they understand the feeling behind the words.

      Thank you for reading it and commenting on it.

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