As a child I was fortunate to know all of my grandparents. Of all of them my paternal grandfather was my favorite grandparent. He was a tough little man, barely five feet six inches tall.
He was never excessively over weight but he had a little round belly. He had a beautiful mischievous smile which I found utterly charming. Welding had faded the color of his eyes to the palest blue I had ever seen. He was hardworking, just, fun loving and surprisingly reverent.Granddaddy was retired from the Gulf Oil Company where he had been a welder for many years. He had his own little welding shop next to the beach house in which he worked every day except Sundays. My Grandfather let me help him in his shop by holding tools, finding tools, and sometimes holding pieces of metal as I wore big thick gloves and a welding shield over my face.
People from all over would come to him to have trailer hitches installed on their cars and trucks. He was highly admired for the quality of his work.His prices were reasonable too.
One customer paid him in watermelons. He had unlimited use of the walk-in at the corner store (payment for another job), so he took his watermelons down there and kept them in the cooler. Grandaddy was fair with people and he worked hard for his money. Grandaddy was not only good at his job; he was good at having fun when he was not working. Almost every evening we would pack up our hot dogs, beach towels, sand shovels, and buckets in his old De Soto and go to the beach for a weenie roast.He loved his old car, and it had seen better days, but it had a convenient hole in the floorboard to spit through, and it was a little tattered from being used for work so we couldn’t really hurt it by taking it to the beach. We would get there around three in the afternoon and swim in the silty surf for a while, then walk along the edge of the water and look for pretty sea shells to decorate our sandcastles with.
Grandaddy was not too grown up to get down in the sand and help me build dribble sandcastles.Just before sunset he would start a fire and we cooked the hotdogs on long pieces of straightened out coat hangers. We had our hotdogs, Fritos, and Big Red soda for dinner and headed home. After dark we always had plenty of fireworks to set off. He loved to put firecrackers under tin cans and light them to launch the can way up into the air. He really knew how to have a good time.
Sunday mornings without fail he would get up early and go to church. My grandfather was dedicated to the Lord. My grandfather made the alter ail out of a metal rod called “rebar” shaped into open tailed fish. That altar rail is probably still there unless some hurricane wiped out the whole church.
My grandfather was hard of hearing, and he hated to wear his hearing aids, but he would wear them to church. He didn’t want to miss any of the sermon. He looked really nice in his church clothes.
I’m pretty sure that they were the only ones that didn’t have holes in them from welding. In the early seventies my grandfather had a surgery to remove part of his lung. It was lung cancer, so he had to have radiation therapy too.It really made him sick for a while, and then when he was feeling better he was just like his old self, only a little short of breath. He couldn’t smoke anymore, so he chewed tobacco.
That was one of the most disgusting habits I have ever seen. He had an actual spittoon which no one ever wanted to touch. Before my grandfather died of emphysema he explained to me that he would be leaving and where exactly he expected to be going. He explained it with such confidence and ease that it was easy to see that he was a man of great faith.
Of all the things I am grateful for, knowing my Grandaddy is way up there on the list. He set a wonderful example for me in his work ethic. He had a strong sense of fairness in business, as evidenced by his customer loyalty. He was not the kind of an adult who had lost his playfulness, nor had he forgotten what being a child was like. This was evident in his child like faith also.
He was a faithful man who loved God. Knowing him truly enriched my life and gave me an example of some characteristics that I value and choose to adopt in my own life.