To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” ~Robert Brault
I like grandpas. There’s just something so appealing to me about them. The way they tuck in their shirts and wear their pants high on their waist. The comb tucked inside their shirt pocket. The magical way they make their thumb disappear.
If my paternal grandfather (Pop) were alive today, we would be eating cake and ice cream in celebration of his 112th birthday. He was born on June 29, 1899, and wanted to live during three centuries. He didn’t make it to Y2K, unfortunately, he was a long shot from it, passing away in 1976, a month before I turned one.
There is only one picture of us together that I’ve ever seen. We are lying together on a bed. He’s on his side, and he’s snuggling me in his arms as my cousin stands beside us.
In my life, I’ve felt a little bit cheated not having the opportunity to know him. From family stories, I know that he was an upstanding fellow, a fiddle player, a poet, and man full of wit. He wrote poetry, and my grannie told me once he wrote a poem about the local meteorologist who never could get the forecast correct, and sent it to him. He read it one night during his weather report.
I have an old cookbook given to me by my grannie. The” receipts” as they called them, are a collection from the pioneers that settled this part of the country and they call for ingredients like oleo and sour milk. Towards the back, you can learn how to make salve and stink bait, if the notion strikes you.
Along with a sweet little recipe for a Happy Day that goes like this:
A little dash of water cold, a little leaven of prayer.
A little bit of sunshine gold, dissolved in morning air.
Add to your meal some merriment, add thoughts kith and kin,
And then as a prime ingredient, a plenty of work thrown in.
Flavor it all with essence of love, and a little dash of play;
Then a nice old book and a glance above complete a happy day.
Shouldn’t we all have a daily dose of that?
There among the yellowing pages of this old cookbook, lies a stained, folded piece of paper.
On one side, in a lady’s writing is an unlabeled list of ingredients for something delicious I’m sure. Butter, sugar, eggs, chopped nuts, dates, flour, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, unsweet apples. Almost sounds like a fruit cake doesn’t it?
And then on the other side, in Pop’s old penmanship is a poem:
My kids aint cute as your kids are
To this I will agree
But you dont have to keep rubbin it in
It hurts me cant you see
But heres one thing boy that is right
and youll admit it too
Im smarter by far and hansomer too
Than a silly nut like you
Happy Birthday Pop!
And what about you? Was your grandpa your best friend? Was he mean? Did he play the banjo? Was he smart and handsome? Could he make his thumb disappear? Or did you, like me, miss out?