Once upon a time in a magical land known as Southern Indiana there was a boy who fell in love with a girl. They married young and though life was hard, their love blossomed into a beautiful thing.
Shortly after, a baby girl was born and then a boy and another boy and another boy and another girl and another girl and another boy and another boy and another girl and another girl and another boy and another girl and another boy. Yep, you counted right – 13 in all, six girls and seven boys. They all lived happily together in a little house.
The man worked hard for nigh on 70 years to guide the family. The family prospered and grew.
Spouses were added and then a baby boy was born and then another baby boy and then a baby girl. Soon there were almost too many grandbabies to count.
Before the grandbabies were done being born more spouses were added. Then a baby girl was born. And soon more great-grandbabies came.
Over the years the family tree has grown strong and beautiful. The branches are full of leaves and the new buds continue.
The years have brought change but some things remain constant. That boy still loves that girl and it’s still a beautiful thing.
That boy is my grandpa and the girl is my grandma. This year they celebrate 70 years of marriage. I am so blessed to be a part of what my brother calls a rather large and wonderful family.
Grandpa will turn 94 years young next week. He is still the strong and true patriarch of the family.
From the start he worked hard. That included time in the Army during World War II, working for the highway department, and running the family farm. Possibly the hardest and definitely the most important job he has had was raising a family of 13 children.
As a child growing up I knew Grandpa mainly as a farmer, but I never really knew how hard he worked at that. Farming can be tough work. Grandpa has never shied away from hard work. When visiting the farm I would look at the fields of corn and not realize how much sweat equity those stalks represented for Grandpa. He was able to coax and nurture until the land produced its bounty.
I often tell people that even though I am a city girl farming blood runs through my veins. I do believe the life gets inside a person and takes root. Even after Grandpa “retired” and turned the farm over to my uncles he continued to head out to the fields each day. When his health problems began to slow him down he still got outdoors as much as possible. When I was home last year I was told that earlier in the day Grandpa had taken Uncle Allen out to the garden. He walked the rows of watermelons and tapped them with his cane. “This one’s ready, but leave that one; it’s not quite done yet.” Allen would pick the melons Grandpa indicated and put them in a wheelbarrow. It was just like Grandpa to do that.
Grandpa isn’t the most boisterous of people. He tells a good story, though. As I write this I can hear his unique timbre as he would tell stories of days gone by. I love the sound of his voice and that hasn’t changed over the years.
He is a man who is loved by many. One of my favorite pictures of Grandpa hangs in the kitchen/dining area of the farm house. In the picture Grandpa is sitting in his recliner and a bunch of grandkids are sitting in his lap and on the arms of the chair. The smiles on the faces of those kids and the smile that lights Grandpa’s face tell a story of a man who loves and is loved.
People are drawn to him because of that smile and his sweet, gentle nature. Not just family, mind you, but most everyone he meets. Grandpa was hospitalized this week and the report I got this morning was that the nurses are all sweet on him and are making sure he is well cared for. As my sister said, “How could they not be drawn to him?” As much as he nurtured the land and the crops, he has done the same with the people he meets.
Grandpa truly is an amazing man. I am blessed to be a part of the family he has created. As his birthday comes next week I am grateful that we have had him with us for so many years.
Happy Birthday (a little early) Grandpa! I love you!
PS – Grandma is amazing in her own right and someday soon I will tell you about the dynamo she is and how incredible it has been to grow up as her granddaughter!