I had the blessings of two completely different sets of grandparents. Both grandfathers were involved with agriculture. However, from my earliest days, my grandparents on my dad’s side were divorced. Or, at least, living apart and having little to do with each other. Because of that, there was little interaction between me and my Grandpa Albert. Grandma Zida was a different person altogether. As a kid, I remember that when the family got together, it was usually at Grandma Zida’s house. Dad’s family was pretty large and when all the uncles got together, the poker game started and the smoke and the language got pretty heavy.
But, they were always good times. All my uncles had served during WWII in the Navy. When I enlisted many years later in the Army, I got all kinds of ribbing from them. You would have thought I had been the catalyst for another world war. But, our family was ALWAYS about picking on each other, so my tendency to do the same comes naturally.
On the other hand, Grandma Viola and Grandpa Ancil were married up until Grandpa passed away. In addition, both were very religious and lived their lives like none others that I had known. I was in my ‘50’s before I found out that Grandpa was an Elder in the small Church of Christ that I grew up in. For all the years I was there, their meetings were always referred to as “business meetings” instead of Elder’s meetings. And of course, all the men of the congregation were invited to attend those meetings. Thus, I guess it was natural that I didn’t know he was an Elder. It was a responsibility that he shouldered, but he was humble enough that he never spoke of being one.
Grandma Viola was a stay-at-home mom, as most were in those days, so she spent a lot of her time listening to music and reading, especially the Bible. Once Jo began to attend our church, she was amazed to watch Grandma when the minister would be reading from the Bible. Jo said that Grandma never looked at her Bible at those times, but Jo could see her mouthing the words right along with the minister. Plus, if he miss-stated something, Grandma usually then displayed a frown. The Word of God was important to her.
All my grandparents, except for Grandpa Albert, were generous to a fault. I have always had a great deal of respect for them and their values. Grandma Zida didn’t display much of going to church, although I think she attended a nearby Baptist church. However, I distinctly remember that her harshest words were, “Oh, Shaw” (whatever that meant) and worst of all, “Sow-Bitch”. That one came out regularly during Canasta games. It’s a good thing she never heard much of my language. But, with so many ex-Navy sons, she had heard the words before.
With Grandma Zida, I remember that at about 14, my mother got a call from her. Then Mom turned to me and told me that Grandma Zida wanted to ride on my motor scooter with me. It was her 80th birthday and she wanted to do something that she had never done. We must have driven around Keyes for nearly an hour, and probably created quite a sight, what with a skinny little kid driving a red scooter and his 80-year-old grandmother laughing on the back. On one other later year, I remember that she insisted on riding a mule. It took us a bit, but we found someone that had one, and Grandma rode him. I guess what really disturbed her most was that later on she found herself unable to fish and work in her garden. I seriously think that that was the beginning of the end. She was a lovely Lady, and I still miss her.
When I returned from basic training in 1966, Grandma Zida broke out in tears when she saw me. Later, my mother told me that Grandma was crying because I was as skinny as a rail and she was sure that I was ailing. I had to drive up to her house and explain to her that at 145 pounds, I had NEVER been heavier and that I had actually gained 10 pounds in Basic because of the regular meals. With all that was going on in those days, with the Vietnam War going on, I guess it was fortunate that she didn’t see me ship overseas before she passed away. I think it would have disturbed her to know that I was away from home and that she would might see me again. As it was, my service was not in any war zones, but one of my cousins did see Vietnam combat and was wounded. It was probably a blessing that she passed away before that happened, because that would have been heart-breaking for her.
All of my grandparents served to be a rock to my life. Each had the pioneer spirit and drive and a deep faith in family and with God. In another posting sometime, I will try to describe what it was that all of them had to live through, and when I do, it will give you a further understanding of the strength that was needed in those times.
Much of my spiritual and mental strength comes from their influence, and the knowledge of what their lives entailed. The love they all displayed toward their families has been an example to me as well. When I married Jo, I had the mental commitment that she was the woman of my life and that our vows were sacred to me. After learning that I was going to be a father, their influence was enough that I committed myself to providing for my family before myself. With the influence of my grandparents and with Jo, our two boys turned out to be young men of which I am very proud.
Another view of the rainbow seen on the January 4th posting. It was created by the steam released by the steam engine blowing down its tanks. A nice little mini-rainbow in the canyon.