Grandfather


4H Pond
4H Pond

I was up at the 4H Pond fishing with little success and saw a huge a pine tree that had fallen on the road. Someone had made long work out of cutting it up and left behind huge pieces of wood. I walked over and wondered how this grandfather had come to fall? Strong storm up at 6000 feet in the Wolf Mountains –

I thought back to a poem I had written in college – probably the only poem I have left after years of travel. My grandfather was a lumberjack. He was one of probably thirteen children – I really do not remember – but I do remember him telling me how as a boy he came home and found his family dead at the dining room table. Some in the family say it was mushrooms and some others  say it was canned food. Fact remains he and his sister were late for dinner.

My grandfather was drafted into the military and when they went to take his fingerprints they rolled one finger across two finger spaces. He had huge hands! He was a giant a gentle giant.  He finally took the whip away from my mother when I was thirteen and hid it away.

I get my stubborn nature from him – Grandma kept complaining about his driving fast and at 65 he told her if she said it one more time he would never drive again – yep – she said it and drove him around the rest of his life. When I was a freshman in high-school, I visited him in Florida and he was brewing homemade grapefruit moonshine! Breakfast had a kick!

I will let the poem speak for my grandfather – he passed at 98 or 103 depends on if one believes Ellis Island records or ?

 

Grandfather

Solid, very solid

like the many timbers he has hewn

A lumberjack by trade

He lived life not in hate

of forest

but in respect and love.

Once he said to me (his favorite grandson)

“Hoss, you need to be careful of the tree when

you go to cut, twenty minutes TIMBER

bellows from your throat

one hundred years yells growth!”

We both have an affinity

for sitting on the back porch

I could always find him there

killing bumble boars that

ate the soft redwood

I find him there chewing Havana Blossom

that ever familiar orange and brown pack

and drinking Genesee beer but always

the sweet reek of beer and tobacco

mix together – grandfather. Upon the porch we have spoken

He a man of few words.

At thirteen a Schrade knife he gave

me – symbol of his love. His bleary

eyes look upon me and seem to say –

of all my grandchildren – Hoss you understand me best.

At fifteen, he taught me

to use his double bit axe

sharp end for the tree and dull

for roots in ground.

Love of nature, trees, being outdoors

love of strong beer and whiskey

but never chewing tobacco –

Grandfather

Hopefully she remembers this day – as her grandfather – I can only hope I am as good as mine!

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One thought on “Grandfather

  1. Hoss, I love this. I love your description of your grandfather. Sounds like someone I would have loved to have met, who I could’ve spent hours with, talking and listening, observing, admiring, learning — like you.

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