Monday, March 19, 2007

For My Grandfather

Forgive me for repeating the 'I am from' theme. I have read so many other versions that have touched me deeply. I did my own general one last week, and the form has continued to tug at me. I could not tuck it away gently until I did one more for my grandfather. I hope you'll understand.





I am from Raymond

I am from the cause of a shotgun wedding, whose parents divorced by the time he was 2, in an age and a place where both of those things covered a child in shame.

From the boy whose mother died when he was 13 and whose stepmother drove him away from his father's house.

From wanting a red-haired daughter to name for the grandmother who took him in and taught him to sew and to cook, from naming a son for the uncle who took him in and taught him mechanics and how to be a man.

I am from dropping out of school so he could support family during the Depression but being a voracious reader and having more sense than many men with PhDs.

I am from hoes and Burpee seeds, from a workshop where every tool was shined and placed back on the peg board in its particular outline and baby food jars of nuts, screws, nails, and bolts were lined up and labelled in meticulous order. I am from Mason canning jars and a stock of jellies, jams, and chow-chow. I am from a heavy Singer sewing machine and finer embroidery than many women can produce.

I am from rounding up excess barn kittens to be drowned but naming the ones spared and sharing sandwiches with them.

I am from faith that makes sacrifice, from true religion that takes care of widows and orphans, from tear-streaked cheeks during 'How Great Thou Art.'

I am from the tiny brick house purchased for $8450 in 1946. From the front porch with the English hapenny pressed into the wet concrete.

I am from the German man who cussed a blue streak in Italian and who went white when I repeated the torrent of profanity at age 10. From threats to 'cloud up and rain all over you' if I misbehaved. From not putting off until tomorrow what can be done today and always keeping your word.

From 'If clothes make the man, I am a poor measure of a man.' From wearing uniform shirts until they were threadbare and still having a stack of 12 new shirts in the closet on the day he died even though he'd been retired at least 10 years. From gleefully wearing a striped tie with plaid pants to church and cutting hair crew cut short after his wife died 'because she's not here to holler at me about it' then weeping...because she was no longer there to holler about it.

I am from raucous laughter over pranks and jokes, from anonymous acts of charitable generosity, from softly spoken words of wisdom, and from soul crushing depression.

I am from headstones scattered through several cemeteries and solemn field trips to them when family lore was handed down as we stood over the graves. I am from a yellowed love letter with a 3 page poem and Western Union telegrams at the end of the war. I am from a tattered Japanese flag that transformed a peaceful countenance to one of rage.

I am from the man who claimed he was a stern father who lost his temper too easily, who said he was a poor husband who caused his wife too much sorrow, who in his last years wept easily over what his sons had done to their wives and children.

And though my 3 cousins would not acknowledge him while he lived due to perceived slights and the bitterness of their mother,

I will stand without shame,

and proclaim with pride,

I am

from Raymond.

30 comments:

airplanejayne said...

This is absolutely the best one I have read! I'm still working on mine -- but will go back, once again, and start over.

beautiful, Lime. Absofrickin' beautiful.

G-Man said...

And he is smiling and living on because of a loving and careing Granddaughter.....
Beautiful Michelle...xoxx

Gawpo said...

Okay, quit it or I will have to buy another box of kleenex. Geez, Limers. That was awesome.

That board you hang tools on with the outlines is called a shadow board. When the shape is filled completely in with black, that is. Outlines work too.

Good for Raymond. Men struggle. The good ones have feelings about their mistakes.

lime said...

apj, i'm humbled, thank you. i can't wait to read yours.

g-man, if he is smiling that is my reward

gawpo, he was the single example in my life of what a man should be.

Logophile said...

You made me cry.
We are in part who we come from, eh?

tl said...

Your Grandfather sounds like a man there should be more of.

Beautifully written.

:)

KFarmer said...

Between you and apj, I am blubbering like an idiot. I loved your story though; a good cry coming out of me is far and few :)

Top cat said...

A great, loving and warm tribute to your grandfather.
Wonderful lime.:)
tc

Doo Dah said...

aw, that was PURTY lime.......(9sniffle))

I could never doo that justice.

lime said...

logo, sometimes i am surprised how much so, other times i can only hope...

tl, thank you and yes, i can't help but think the world woudl be a better place...

kframer, i apologize for not issuing a hankie alert

tc, thank you

doodah, i bet you could...

barefoot_mistress said...

Its ok that you repeated this type of post because you shine at writing, and so makes it worthy.

That is beautiful. I hope that I can give my daughter memories of her family to speak so well about.....

Hey..wondering...the post about all of us modeling a certain garment? Havent we all done our time? Isnt it time for that post? :D Just sayin....

steve said...

Wow lime does not get better than that!! Way to go!

Balou said...

What beautiful thoughts and memories. I enjoyed your other "from" post. Love this idea.

Jocelyn said...

No apologies necessary. I agree that there is a poignancy to these that bears repeating.

Diesel said...

Wow.

goodthomas said...

This is beautiful. All of it. The obvious and the not so obvious, the love that flows through this. I love how love finds depth in the unattractive nature of man, how love wraps her arms around even those things.

Amazing, Lime.

lime said...

bare, thank you. and i have no doubt lil rita will have the most wonderful memories.

steve, thank you very much

balou, i'm glad you enjoyed. i hope you try one yourself.

jocelyn, thanks, i'm glad you think so.

diesel, i'll take that as a compliment

goodthomas, what generous praise so poetically expressed, thank you so much.

Sheri said...

wow - Michelle - I am deeply touched by this. I see so much of my grandfather in yours and you've so eloquently portrayed him. The peg board with tools.... the baby food jars netly lined and filled... the new shirts in the closet.

You should be very proud to be of Raymond. Thank you for sharing all these details.

AndyT13 said...

I am from finding this form very difficult to follow because the weird syntax covered in it is. Very.

But you and your grand dad rock.

Moosekahl said...

Wow! A beautiful tribute to honor a real man. I'm glad you came from such a background.

Ameratis said...

That is beautiful Lime. I think I shall try one of those when I have time to sit down and give it proper attention.

Thank you for sharing because it is truely a beautiful piece of art that is your life.

RennyBA said...

This was touching Michell - not often do posts gives tears in my eyes - this one did. Thank you for sharing!
Like Susie say: I hope that I can give my children memories of their family to speak so well about.....!

M said...

awwww...that was sooo cool!

jillie said...

I think in all of the blogs that I have ever read, I don't think I have read one that has touched me more than this one! Well done....VERY well done!

lime said...

sheri, if your grandfather was like mine then you were blessed:)

andy, sorry for the confusion

moose, thank you, i am grateful as well

ameratis, thank you. i look forward to reading yours

renny, i am glad there was no language barrier and i am sure your children will have many lovely memories

m, smiling...

jillie, thank you, you are too kind.

snavy said...

That was amazing.

I haven't even finished mine yet.

Heather said...

Wow - that was an awesome tribute to your grandfather. He sounds like a wonderful person to have known.

lime said...

snavy, i'm looking forward to yours

heather, thank you, he was wonderful

Apple said...

Wow! An amazing tribute.

Lolly said...

That was awesome!