Stories about my
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Poem #382 - Sept 30, 2018 - "The Hope of a Mother
Thank you, Heavenly Stars!
These are grandpa stories about my paternal Grandfather.
This website - Thank Your Stars - is an invitation to appreciate the stars in our lives.
I wish to use this opportunity here to thank one of my stars, my own paternal Grandfather.
May he be richly blessed for the legacy he left - and may we all be richly blessed by his wonderful example!
In all the stories of my grandparents, I've put forth the facts to the best of my ability. It involved a fair amount of research.
I contacted some of my relatives still living to check on the accuracy of some of these stories. Keep in mind, some of these stories happened almost 100 years ago, which is a long time for even the best of memories.
I want to express my gratitude to my relatives for being so helpful. I am thankful I had the opportunity to learn more about my heritage.
Once Upon A Time
My Grandfather, Stephen, was born in the late 1800's. He died at the age of 93.
When he was 16, his father died. So Stephen, being the oldest, ran the farm to support his mother and his younger brother and 4 sisters. Another brother and sister died in infancy.
My Grandfather first met my Grandmother, Mary, in a town more than 100 miles away. My Grandmother was working in a merchant store owned by 2 brothers, who were my grandfather's uncles.
My grandparents stayed in touch through letters, and got married in 1919 when both were in their late 20's. My Grandmother was almost a year older than my Grandfather.
They got married under some rather unusual circumstances because of the Spanish flu epidemic, which you can find out about in their true love stories.
Starting a Family
After the wedding - and when my Grandfather was feeling better - my Grandmother moved up to the farm with my Grandfather, and they started a family.
My Grandfather's widowed mother wanted the farming done just the way her husband had done it before he died. But my Grandfather wanted to use crop rotation on the farm. Eventually, because of the disagreement, my Grandfather left farm work to his younger bother and moved his family 5 miles into town.
He got a job in a rubber vulcanization plant (a process used to make automobile tires). According to one of my aunts, there was one window and one door in the place, and so my grandfather was breathing all kinds of fumes.
With all those fumes, my Grandfather got tuberculosis (1923) and had to go to a sanitarium. He had a doctor who was ahead of his time and saved his life. Some years later (1930) tuberculosis again returned, but thankfully, he was able to recover. He was left with 1/4 of one lung and 1/3 of the other.
When he tried to get health insurance, nobody wanted to insure him, because they figured he was too great a risk. But he actually lived many more years, because Grandfather died when he was 93, more than 50 years later!
Anyway, Grandfather moved his family again, moving to the town where he first met my grandmother, and that's where my own father was born.
My Grandfather was a county assessor for years, and did odd jobs such as painting and construction. He also worked in the big family garden.
Sometimes, when he was painting or doing heavy work, or there was too much sawdust in the air, he would have to take a break, and even stop working for the day.
Grandfather knew how to cane chairs, which means he replaced the worn out caned weaving in older style chairs and rocking chairs. He had a workshop at his house, and did this even when he was getting much older. He helped all sorts of people get their furniture fixed and restored.
A Visit to my Grandparents
When I was around 4 years old, our family took the train across the country to visit our grandparents.
Because I was so little, I don't remember much. But what I do remember, are now some very precious memories.
I don't remember exactly how we got to Grandmother and Grandfather's house. But I have a few memories of our stay there.
The Green Tomato
Grandfather had some tomatoes growing on the north side of his house, just outside the back door to the kitchen. I found a nice green tomato. I picked it and brought it with both hands and came into the kitchen and gave it to Grandpa. "Look, Grandpa, what I found!"
He thanked me, and showed me he was putting it on the window sill. I was so happy, I headed back outside telling Grandfather I'd bring him some more.
But my mom caught me and said, no, no, no, that's enough helping Grandpa !
I remember Grandmother sitting in her wheelchair in the living room by the front door. We played games with Grandmother.
I tell this story and more about my dear Grandmother here in Grandma Stories.
Soon our visit ended and we had to go home. We left Grandmother to go back to the train station. It was several hours' drive away. We all squeezed into Grandfather's car. We took a wrong turn, so whoever was driving tried to turn around in the road, because we didn't want to miss the train.
Grandfather and my dad tried to push and pull, but the car was stuck. Mom was trying to keep us toddlers and babies from getting in the way and getting too near the road. They had to get a tow truck, and when he pulled them out, guess what, he pulled them out facing the wrong way again! So we had to go down the road until we found a parking lot to turn around in. It's kind of funny thinking it about it now, but probably wasn't then, because everyone was afraid we'd miss the train.
I remember the train station in St. Louis, standing looking at all the tracks ending under a big covered roof.
I remember on the way back, the train stopped out in the country. It must have been one of the times I wasn't sleeping. Everyone could get out and take a walk. Mom and Dad were very concerned that we would get back to the train in time. I remember we had to stay together, and Mom holding my hands as we took a little walk.
Thanks, Mom and Dad for all your concern. Thank you for taking us to visit Grandma and Grandpa !
"Grandpa's Coming !"
A few years later, our family was living in Colorado. Grandfather came to visit us!
He came by plane to Denver, and after a long drive, we picked him up. I don't remember much about the visit.
For weeks and weeks we children would say, Grandpa's coming, Grandpa's coming !
I probably was at the age like most children, I'd rather go out and play in the back yard. But I'm sure it was a precious time for Grandfather and my parents too.
I do remember that when he was leaving in the airplane, we could see him in the airplane window, and we waved.
I never saw Grandfather again, because we moved even further away. He lived at least 15 more years. But we didn't forget Grandfather.
Our family prayed every day for Grandfather. On very special days, our family would call Grandfather and each of us got a turn to say hi and talk with Grandfather.
We couldn't afford the long distance phone bill each week. My mom and dad made sure that every week on Sunday we would write something to Grandfather, even if all we did was draw a picture. Grandfather was the only one of our grandparents alive. (The other 3 died when I was little or before I was born.)
Unfortunately, we didn't always do it every week. I remember Dad getting the envelope and stamps ready, and many times not being able to seal it because some of our letters weren't ready. And Mom had to remind us quite a few times.
It wasn't really at the top of my priorities. O, I loved Grandfather, but I'd rather read a book or go outside to play on the weekend, because we had so much schoolwork to do and lots of chores. I would much rather go out and play on the weekend, so I didn't always like my mother reminding me.
But not Grandfather. He really stayed in touch. Grandfather would type and write us long letters with all the news. They came faithfully each week like clock-work. He would send us all kinds of clippings from the newspaper. (We didn't have TV, radio, or newspaper when we were growing up.). Eventually when his eyesight got poor and he couldn't type any longer, he used a tape recorder and sent us tapes.
If the letters didn't come, we would get worried that something might have happened to Grandfather. Or was there a delay at the Post Office? But usually they came, just a day or 2 later. Then we found out that he would have to wait until a good neighbor named Anna came and checked on him. She would deliver and pick up the mail. I think she even wrote for him when his eyesight was going bad, until they got the tape recorder.
Grandfather Prayed a Lot for Us
I remember my Grandfather writing to us in a letter, how when he was mowing the lawn, he would get out of breath.
He would stop and sit on the porch and pray, sometimes for an hour, before going back and finishing the lawn. He wrote that every day he prayed an hour or 2, and sometimes much more.
Thank you, Grandpa, for your prayers for all of us.
Many Years Later
And now another little grandpa story, about all those letters I didn't always like to write.
Many years later, I wrote in one of my Christmas letters what was happening on the farm.
One of my aunts, who had been a teacher all her life, sent me a card in reply, saying she enjoyed the interesting stories about my farm and garden. Then she wrote that she always knew I would be a writer someday, because of the letters I wrote to Grandpa.
Well, how did she know what I wrote? My dad explained that she traveled every month or so to see Grandfather, and when he couldn't see enough to read, she read to him all the letters we sent him since her last visit.
Thank you, dear aunt, for your insight and encouragement.
Staying in Touch
Maybe you have special memories of family and relatives, special grandma and grandpa stories?
These stories remind us how much we should appreciate the lives and hard work, the many sacrifices our ancestors made. We take for granted so many modern conveniences today.
It tells us how important it is to appreciate our loved ones, while we have them. And how important it is to pray for them.
Our trouble is often nothing compared to their sacrifices.
People had to work hard for a dollar. Infant mortality was high. Sick people didn't have the medical help we have today.
It also shows the importance of cards and letters. You never know, by writing a thank you card or letter even when you don't feel like it, you may be developing a special skill that will pay you handsomely down the road!
And it will help you keep and cherish your special memories, such as your grandma and grandpa stories.
Here are some stories about my grandmother
Go to Grandparents Day Poems.
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