My grandfather was a kind and gentle man. He never raised his voice or put any kind of fear in me. He worked hard. He built his 2 story house with his own 2 hands. He planted a substantial garden that gave his family more than 50% of their food. He was a pastor in his church. He was very devoted to his wife. He served in World War Two. He raised his children and never did anything offensive or wrong to them.
My grandpa used to read from a beautifully colored childrens book to me every night when I stayed in his home. The books were all stories from the bible. Stories that now I can look at and see they can be taken as quite frightening. Coming from his gentle and loving voice I never felt a moment of fear or worry over these stories. I stayed with them (my grandparents)while my mother attended college. This would be for several weeks at a time. It was supposed to be one of my safe times. A place for me to be where no one could hurt me. I wish I could say this was true all the time. Unfortunately it was not. I should make it clear that my grandfather never once hurt me and he didn't know of the pain that was being inflicted on me while I visited. Those events are better saved for a different telling.
My grandpa would gently ask me if I would like to go outside and pick vegetables from the garden. As I sat in the dirt picking peas from the vines, eating most of them, he would be working hard on the radishes or potatoes or fixing the watering system. I was safe and free to just sit and pick my food. I would skip about the garden for hours while he worked and ate the food he grew or drove toy cars and trucks through the dusty paths he had created between each long planter box. While he worked and I played, I remember feeling so safe and free. I never wanted to go back in the house.
Sometimes we wouldn't go back in right away. He would go in and get the sandwiches grandma had made and some lemon aid and meet me out by the back deck (that he had built). We would wash up and sit and eat, then start fishin'. His was a nice little deck that stretched out over the canal that ran into Clear Lake near by. It was filled with rainbow trout and bass and cat fish. The cat fish gave me the creeps. The rainbows were my favorite, I think because they were so plentiful and easy to bring in. Grandpa taught me how to clean and gut them at the sink and cutting table he fashioned to his deck. As we fished together and grandpa had to put his arms over my shoulders from behind I remember thinking even back then at such a young age, "dont shudder, dont be scared, he wont hurt you, Oh thank God i am safe".
I dont know that my grandfather will ever know just how much he meant to me. Will he know he was the only man in my childhood to not traumatize me? Does he know, he gave me a glimpse into what a real man is supposed to be. If it wasn't for him, my life would have ended quite early and gone in a much more horrific direction. His loving arms and voice, let me know I was worthy. I am worthy. I am a child deserving of love and respect. I tear up as I write this. I miss my grandfather soooo much. He was taken from me by the person who used to abuse me back when I visited him. He still doesnt know. He may be dead right now for all I know. He may have died wondering what happened to the grandchild he loved so much. Why didn't she visit more, why didn't she love him? Lord I hope he doesn't die with that feeling or thought. I hope the truth is found in his heart.
I love you so much grandpa. Thank you for saving my life just by loving me as a good man should.
I wish that I had pictures of him, but I don't. So all I can use are the pictures taken during times he was around and making me feel safe.
Dear So and So...Proving A Point
5 years ago