October 19, 2020. This one is memoirish (is that a word), not advice, and certainly not a commercial effort. The weather and the new pandemic life restrictions closing in on me. Indulge me, please.
Getting closer to Thanksgiving makes me feel nostalgic for past holidays when we had a houseful of family here. This year I am alone and think that my daughter and her family will prefer not to leave their house due to being careful and reducing social life. I heartily wish the COVID-19 restrictions to our lives long gone!
So, I'll fill my mind with happy thoughts, like remembering my Grandpap. We lived next door and he was part of my life every day.
My two grandfathers were so different and each one's habits enriched my life.
My Grandpap Myers was a gentle, quiet man, an ordained minister in a modernized branch of the Mennonite churches. He grew peonies and roses and kept a huge kitchen garden out back, and read his Bible sitting on the porch on hot afternoons, whistling to birds that came and perched beside him. He loved to hold the family's babies, and I never saw him angry.
My Grandpa (never "pap" we were warned by Grandma) Smith wore dress trousers and silk socks held up by garters even when watering Grandma's huge flower gardens. He was quiet also but wore hearing aids that he turned off when tired of listening to anyone. He smoked cigars, drank beer, made wine in the cellar from his own grape arbor, and bought illegal gambling tickets every week. I thought him sophisticated and slightly mysterious as he never talked of his life before marrying Grandma. And we never asked.
Both my grandfathers were named Harry and both had changed his name in adulthood. Benjamin Harrison Myers to Harry B. Myers, as he did not like Benjamin. And Harry Victor Smith, always called Vic by the family we didn't know, became Harry V. Smith with orders never to call him Vic. More mystery here. Now too late to find out what.
I loved them both. And thought their differences a balance in my life. One, for me, a patriarchal rock of stability. And the other a connection to the more exotic world outside my family clan.
I miss them both and all of my family who are gone now. My memories of that growing up time are full of grandparents, aunts and uncles, lots of baby cousins, and Sunday afternoons on Grandma's wide front porch.
Everyone talking at the same time, sharing cheerful gossip of our big extended family, coffee cups balanced on porch railing, and children calling "look at me" doing somersaults on the lawn.
Leo Tolstoy once said that all happy families are alike. We were a happy family. I thought that our life as it was then would last for always, just like children think before they grow up.
But it is just the happy memories that last. And they sustain us all throughout our long lives, if we are lucky.
I am one of the lucky ones.