This week I was supposed to be in Oklahoma at my family reunion. Since I’m still having issues from the penicillin reaction, I’m unable to go. So I thought a stroll down memory lane might help.
My first memory is of my grandfather. I can still hear my Grandpa True’s voice as he woke me before dawn. “Son-dra? Get on up,” he would say and then he was gone in the dark. (He never pronounced my name right but hey, he was Grandpa!)
Every year I looked forward to the best week of each year: the week my family spent in Oklahoma. Both my mother and father grew up in northwest Oklahoma, Claremore and Pryor respectively. Every summer after my parents moved away, we would go back for a week of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmothers…but I only had one grandfather…and that was Grandpa True.
I didn’t know my grandfather until he was retired. The man I knew was an avid fisherman and I loved to get that call in the dark. I knew this meant that Grandpa was taking me!
I’d stumble in my clothes and head in the kitchen where Grandpa sat at the island with a cup of coffee that he sweetened with honey. He’d pour me a bowl of Wheaties and while I ate, he’d poke me in the ribs, “counting them” he called it, with those long, leathery fingers or pinch my calves with those long toes. (My son, Craig, has those ties and it always reminds me of Grandpa.) I can see him now, sitting there in those brown pants that were too short for his long legs and the “wife-beater” undershirt. I ate fast so I could be ready when he was.
Grandpa had rules about coming fishing with him. You had to be up and ready when he headed to the truck. You couldn’t complain about being cold or tired or needing the bathroom. You had to bait your own hook and take your own fish off. And you had to be quiet!
When I first starting dating my husband, Jim, I told him I liked to fish. He, of course, had been told this by several girls who, upon being taken, proved otherwise. The first time we went, he kept asking if everything was alright. When I asked him why he said, “You’re so quiet.”
“Yes, I’m fishing,” I told him. Needless to say, after watching take care of myself, Jim was in love.
Grandpa would always stop to get gas and he’d give me $5 to load up on chips and pop and candy. It was such a special time!
A few times, Grandpa would bring some of the family to our house at Thanksgiving. It was the only time we had him, Grandma, Mom Shahan, Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Terri to ourselves. Grandpa was different here. He would help me with jigsaw puzzles and sit in my room while I showed him what books I was reading. He even pet our cats. We had several that were black and white and he called them “Holstein kitties.”
I didn’t get to spend any time with Grandpa as an adult. He died when I was twenty one. I don’t have many memories of him. But the ones I do are filled with love.