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 ?
Solid, very solid
like the many timbers he has hewn
A lumberjack by trade
He lived life not in hate
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 –
Hopefully she remembers this day – as her grandfather – I can only hope I am as good as mine!