He has a humor that is slightly off (which explains a lot about me) and the drive and perseverance to do just about anything he sets his mind to. He is also one tough cookie!
As young girls, my sister and I spent countless hours at the drugstore with him. He was a pharmacist and my mother kept the books. Carrie and I were taught from a young age how to work. We were taught far more than how to keep records, how to deal with customers or how to do inventory (blecchh!). What we were witness to was not only a lesson on how to have a life partner that was your best friend, that you loved spending time with to the point that you worked side by side every single day-rarely apart, and how to develop a work ethic to carry us through life. When he retired from pharmacy and took up the reins of my grandfather's real estate business, it was again side by side with my mother.
As I had my sons, he was right there guiding them and enjoying time with them. Many hours have been spent walking, talking, shooting, and plain goofing off between the boys and their grandfather...hours spent at home, at the farm, at pow-wows and on so many occasions. He has shared his love of history, play time and heritage with them.
But where did he learn the things he has and continues to pass on? That would be by the side of his father, my grandfather...Papa Grammer. What an inspirational man! Early in his marriage, he took his wife and other family members across the country from Arkansas to California to search for work. We are talking dustbowl/depression times. Family stories that have been passed down are rich with jobs he held to, antics of he and my grandmother. Papa Grammer, to me, was a quiet man of incredible strength. He worked hard and then he worked some more. I cannot count the number of times that I have called him needing help with figuring out how to do something. He is greatly missed, but I am proud to have known such a wonderful man. Still today, true to the goofiness which I come by naturally, I cannot make or eat pie without thinking about Papa G. To say he loved pie would be an understatement. When we would go out to eat as a family, he would never come right out and say he wanted a slice, instead ALWAYS asking, "Do you want pie? Well, if you want some, then I will have some too." Of course, you always said yes, because he reallllyyyy wanted a piece of pie.
And then there is my Papa Phillips, my mother's father. Oh my heavens that man had the greenest thumb on earth! There was absolutely nothing that he could not grow. He was a tall and lanky gentleman with a quick and easy grin. The years that I remember most with him included visiting him when he was still working at Lewis Brothers on the square in Fayetteville. At that time he and Granny lived in a two-story white house that my mother lived in when she met my father. That house always seemed huge to me. The back yard and garden, enormous in my eyes. I recall walking through the garden with him and rummaging in the garage as he potted and replanted and nurtured all manner of plants. He had a special touch to the garden area pathways...each grandchild had their footprints cast in concrete with their name and date scratched in with a big nail. It was always fun to stand in my cousins' footprints. He smoked Camel cigarettes, but NEVER in the house and to this day, if I perchance catch a whiff of one, his image pops into my head.
Granddad. It would be a much better world indeed if every child had a Great Grandparent or two (as I did) actively in their life. My Great Grandfather (on my Daddy's side) was a hoot and a half! Rarely did I see him dressed in anything other than overalls and a plaid flannel shirt. He had a love of Papa Burgers from A&W, root beer floats, and popcorn. Oh, the popcorn! From the time I was 16 until I moved away after college, I went to his house every Sunday. We would sit and visit. Sometimes we would watch baseball...which literally meant watch as he always had the volume turned down. Often I would bring jiffy pop to fix while we sat and shot the breeze. He was a source of many of the funny family stories. One involves him as a young man at a barn dance. He spotted a pretty young girl and wanted to talk to her. He mustered up the courage and tried to join in the conversation where she was. They were discussing a fire. His flustered, infatuated contribution to the conversation: "I saw that star fart." (instead of I saw that fire start). As he approached his late 80's, he was adamant that no Grammer lived past 89 and that was that. Well, when that birthday came and passed and he was still alive and kicking, he revised that plan for him to be that he believed he would hang around to see his Great-Great Grandchild. And that he did. Alex was born on October 12, 1991, five days after Granddad's 100th birthday. He got to see and hold Alex twice before he passed away a few months later. Perhaps those encounters contributed to Alex's wry wit. Either way, Granddad was my special Granddad and I miss those afternoons of jiffy pop.
Without question, these great men have impacted my life in subtle and obvious ways. I love you all.
Happy Father's Day!