Memorial Day. The day we are supposed to remember our fallen troops and friends & family that are no longer with us.
We miss them. All of them. Some we think of more than others. I don’t remember G’pa Carl very well. I remember G’ma Ruth much better, but those memories are getting fuzzy like I am seeing them through a screen door.
The ache that I feel when I think of my G’pa Andes pushes my heart into my throat and makes me swallow hard. I wish I could talk to him again. I have so many questions I want to ask him. My perception is that there was almost nothing he couldn't do when he put his mind to it. Always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement. He was such a patient man. A master carpenter and a craftsman I haven’t seen since, he was an artist; his medium was wood. From the subtle beauty of the grandfather clock that he built in satin rubbed walnut to the understated timelessness of the oak moulding and finish work in his house that was so smooth that when you ran your hands over it you would almost swear that red oak was soft instead of durable like iron.
He raised two wonderful children, my Mom and Uncle. Both of whom exhibit a lot of his character. And for sure, in the case of Mom, he passed to her his patience. So patient that she was able to raise me instead of doing me in and planting me in the pasture behind the house.
Ever since I bought my first house with Wife, I realized that while I enjoyed my time with G’pa, I wasted it. I hope I brought him pleasure when we went to Old Threshers in the fall, spending time with him, listening to him talk about the steam engines and what all they could do. Watching the sawmill and the veneer making machine, riding the steam engine.
I could not see the future that would take him from our family at such a young age in 1990. I didn’t realize that he had a wealth of knowledge about woodworking and building, how things go together and how things work. I didn’t know that there wouldn’t be time to ask the questions I would need to, most of which I didn’t even know I would want to know. About how LIFE works. I have many questions I would like to ask him. If I could, I would apprentice myself to him just to spend time around him and observe how he carried himself from day to day.
So for Memorial Day, I again find myself thinking about G’pa Andes and hope that he is up there looking down on his family and guiding us in his careful way. Watching over Kat and taking delight in the mischief that she gets into. Helping me not mess things up too badly. Gently nudging me in the right direction so that my life will be as full as his was.
I miss him so much.