I didn’t know my paternal Grandfather because he passed away shortly after I was born, but I had the privilege of knowing my maternal Grandpa. I hope you all had a Grandpa as wonderful as mine. He was so loving, yet distant. So hard working and industrious, yet calm and introspective. So private, yet very sociable.
I’d like to first share his fearsome side. In the summer, all of his grandchildren would be sent to my grandfather’s and grandmother’s house on a lake in northern Wisconsin. Our main meal was served in the middle of the day, which was called supper. It was all completely German, most of it was sumptuous, but sometimes nasty awful. My Grandpa didn’t allow for any drama at the table; if you ate it good, if you didn’t it was put in the refrigerator for your next meal. This was day after day until you got hungry enough to eat it. No histrionics were allowed at the table! You either ate it at supper time or not, but you would eat it eventually or starve to death!
Also no “Tom Foolery” at the table, in fact children not talking was preferred. Well, you know how this little segment will unfold. Some kid does something funny like blows milk out their nose and all hell breaks loose. My Grandpa would slam his hands down and state, “Doss ist enough!” Everything would come to a searching halt until it all started again in about five minutes.
Grandpa also loved to delve into solitary projects. He loved his garden where he grew all kinds of vegetables. He had a small orchard of cherry, pear, plum and apple trees. He also had a huge grape arbor. Needless to say he made pickles, sauerkraut, wine, and every Saturday he made bread. Now here’s where you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself. He would roust all of his grandchildren out of bed early in the morning so he could proof his bread in our warm beds. The the rising bread was all in bowls covered with sanitary tea towels. Hours later sumptuous bread came out of the oven but I was only allowed to eat one slice because the yeast in the bread was still swelling and if I ate too much my stomach would explode. Yeah sure, Grandpa!
As you can see by the only two pictures I have of him, he was normally smoking: pipes, cigarettes, and his favorite cigars. Look at that picture, he’s a loving Grandpa yet risks setting me on fire with a flaming cigarette ash. Hey sweetheart let me give you a push, puff, oh dear sorry about that!
He was a very quiet man. Every house he lived in, he created spaces for quiet reflection. He’d sit with his smokes and watch the world go by over a brandy. If I happened by he would give me a gentle caress.