I had a special relationship with my Grandfather. As a child, I thought that I was that special grandchild. I was his third grandson, but Grandpa had eight such relationships, with four grandsons and four granddaughters. He was generous of his time, interested in what each of us were doing. He was that sort. Not outspoken, when he did speak, it was with purpose. “How is your hockey team doing?” “How many goals have you scored?” “Tell me about school.” These would be questions posed to me as a boy.
Because I had similar mannerisms, and a keen interest in the farm as a lad, we got along very well. On the farm, I was his shadow, from age seven to twelve, from dawn til bedtime. I looked forward to the one or two weeks visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm, usually as soon as school was out; haying time. I am sure I asked lots of questions to which Grandpa would answer. For me, the farm was one big science exhibit to be explored, hands on. Questions I’m sure I asked: “Why does hay have to be dry? Why do calves get the first milk from their mothers? Why do you have fallow fields?” The question of “Where do calves come from, was never answered even if I did ask that one.” (Partial answer – the Seymour farm, a kilometer away had one monstrous mean-looking Holstein bull, which I assumed “did the job” at the Seymour farm. The Prestons had no bull. Therefore, the male genes were from a borrowed source or possibly Artificial Insemination). The summers when I was eleven and twelve I did field and barn work. Hard. But they were the best summers! (More later)
So, how does one carry on a conversation with someone dead for 28 years? Talk to one of his photos? Pray? Apologize for bad behaviour? Reminisce with still living family members? Write a blog?
All these could be done. I will blog. I will tell stories of a boy’s memories and now from the perspective of an older man’s keyboard.
The child – grandparent conversation is not equal. The elders guide, instruct, listen, and converse at a child’s comprehension level. The child is inquisitive, unbiased and honest in his or her questions. You can never have that mature adult conversation as a one on one. The equalization comes later, when that child grows up, ages and has witnessed and lived life’s cycles. He then, can impart that guidance and wisdom learned, long ago to the current young ones.
April 1959, dinner with family in the Preston farm kitchen.
My grandfather and me: summer 1960 on the orange Allis Chalmers tractor. My seat position: always tucked on top of the mini tool box, wedged beside my grandfather.
I drove this tractor for the first time at age 12. Trust from my grandfather. I drove a distance, hitched up a wagon by backing into the wagon safely, and returned. I did OK.